Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

With Painted Ruins, Grizzly Bear continue to show that use of every crayon in the box can create a true masterpiece

Album Review by Emily Ingram | 15 Aug 2017
  • Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Album title: Painted Ruins
Artist: Grizzly Bear
Label: RCA
Release date: 18 Aug

It’s little wonder that Jonny Greenwood – lead guitarist of Radiohead and supreme overlord of all that is ethereal – dubbed Grizzly Bear his favourite band almost a decade ago: since then, it would be fair to say that the group have done no wrong. With critical acclaim, legions of fans and musical collaborators coming in from all angles, it seems that frontman Ed Droste and co struggle to produce anything that isn’t a grand musical triumph (even when it's just a contribution to the Twilight soundtrack).

That, too, could be said for Painted Ruins, the group’s hotly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s Shields. Opening with a dullened orchestral hum, Wasted Acres soon descends into a thrilling intricacy – one that leaves the imagination swimming in a pool of smooth strings and twanging guitar. Before long, the introduction of Droste’s richly trilling vocal carries the record one step further, lending it a frank quality that could never quite be achieved by the group’s masterful instrumentation alone.

As the album flows from soundscape to soundscape, you can never be sure when a dreamlike hush of electronica will explode into a random tsunami of rich, almost colourful sound. Driven only by the rolling of slack drums, tracks like Aquarian and Cut-Out are almost Beethoven-esque in their wild unpredictability, and unapologetic utilisation of every instrument possible.

It's this quality that renders Grizzly Bear one of the finest art-rock groups to date. Whilst their run-of-the-mill, dream-pop contemporaries experiment with a range of distortion pedals, this band continue to show that use of every crayon in the box (or, rather, every seat in the orchestra) can create a true masterpiece.

Listen to: Wasted Acres, Aquarian