“Examining the Possibility of the Absurd in Grizzly Bear, 2009, with Allusion to Present Day”

The Barenaked Ladies obviously sound coy when they sing “It’s All Been Done,” like they typically do with just about anything they sing, but this is actually a discussion that surfaced legitimately sometimes in the 2000s, and I think there’s something to it. So I’m not sure whether to lament or rejoyce that so much in the world to me seems so unexplainable — maybe this is just the world’s way of hashing new, unprecedented phenomena to render anew our daily strategies, so that everything avoids becoming overly logical. You wouldn’t want the world to make too much sense, you know.
One thing’s for sure: before Grizzly Bear’s album Veckatimest came out, NOBODY had done that sh** before, though some had provided artistic bookends, and I’m talking entities as vastly apart as Crosby, Stills and Nash and Radiohead. Of course, this makes pertinent the discussion about music’s originality/repetition dichotomy which in turn can’t help but clasp hands with that of whether everything’s been done, and if it MATTERS — Nick Hornby raved in the liner notes, and not without aplomb, about the wonders of the Gaslight Anthem album Handwritten, and its penchant for drawing copiously from tradition. Guess what, the Gaslight Anthem’s music has proved extremely disposable, and particularly since they rip off Green Day’s song “Jesus of Suburbia” for one of their best song, “Old White Lincoln,” the feat of ever one-upping Green Day, or even emerging as as relevant, is looking more and more herculean every day, EXCEPT if they are to change up what they do a la Warning.
Veckatimest was a delicate mosaic, but with frightening depths of feeling and intensity, hewn like patchwork. Language is finite — based on mathematical combinations such as a number of total letters, spaces and line breaks allowed (excessive length of text just tending to yield diminishing returns, as it were), but the way poets of music use it, from Bob Dylan to Isaac Brock to Grizzly Bear’s own Daniel Rossen, you’d THINK it was infinite — like Brock he’s got a great knack for closely juxtaposing the abstract and the absurdly simple, a la the “I’ll just be cleaning” quip in precocious closeur “Foreground.” Beyond just the dichotomy of abstract and concrete, as well, lies the simply metaphorical, which hauntingly surfaces as fully and ebulliently functioning within a song title itself: “I Live with You.” This is latter-day indie rock baring its godhead teeth.
I thought Shields made for a nice little pop album, even if it didn’t improve on Veckatimest necessarily, and I was offended to hear cokemachineglow.com ripping it (no other publication I know of was so spiny there)… “Sleeping Ute” definitely wasn’t a favorite upon first listen of mine, but I would say it embraced formula as a process which acted as a necessary evil in light of the levitating delicacy and frailty that would come. “Sun in Your Eyes” makes a dynamite, seven-minute bookend.
So now we come to 2017, and we’re told we’re getting a new Grizzly Bear album this year, along with the knowledge that we’re also to get a new Fleet Foxes and Beck, to compliment our Spoon, Real Estate, New Pornographers, Jesus and Mary Chain and Shins albums, and… it’s certainly hard to imagine a better year in music ever manifesting itself, but that of course is highly debatable. Grizzly Bear is a band I root for, but which I also fear just a little bit, just for the incredible, haunting amount of energy the ground in almost each song.
So what if the line at the end of “All We Ask,” “I can’t get out of what I’m into with you,” were actually not only ironic, which it obviously is in that this isn’t a conventional brand of lament, but also ably gleaned as a cultural statement in the capacity of being a consumer, and actually being hounded by a company which has your contact information? Sorry for the silly posit here, but hopefully I’ve added enough glowing praise of Grizzly Bear to now justly ascribe to them something slightly simpler, if not actually shallower. The debate becomes one as to whether these consumer hazards we face, whether they’re our food being processed amalgamations of goop, of low quality, or this invasion of privacy we get with all these companies trying to sell us things on the internet — how deeply do these things offend us, and is this especially even a viable argument in light of the fact that although capitalism’s ALTERNATIVES can SEEM desirable, they’re usually abused just as much in light of human nature itself? Also, to what extent can something so shallow actually be MUSICAL? Well, if anyone can pull it off, I think it would be Grizzly Bear, since they address existential and apocalyptic themes in their music both right away on opener “Southern Point,” as well as closeur “Foreground.” By that time, in the middle, you should make way for a little pointless bit**ing about nothing, just to show that you’re human.

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