We’re clearly well entrenched in the mid-’00s indie rock portion of my vinyl history, and for some that means this is either the best or the worst part. They’re my records, so obviously I love them, but I also have my own frustrations with indie rock, in that what was once the domain of innovation and new ideas got pretty stale when everybody started doing it. I mean, in 2005 or 2006 I was starting to go mad when every MP3 blog was posting the Bishop Allen EP of the month. I mean, sure I like some of their songs, but in small doses. You only need so much Bishop Allen, am I right?
But I’m not here to slag on Bishop Allen. The thing with indie rock is that, for every seven or eight bands that can’t get over their Pavement fandom, there’s a group like Grizzly Bear, who take songwriting to a more interesting place. Their 2006 album Yellow House, at the time, most certainly felt like an important release. And considering there are a lot of bands that sound like Grizzly Bear now, that’s probably true. They offered something different — more ambiance, more reverence to much older sounds, less loyalty to any of them.
It’s interesting to hear it nine years later, however, since for the last few years, most of the songs I’ve heard from the album have been on shuffle in isolation. But the album, on the whole, is pretty damn all over the place. That’s both good and bad. The diversity makes it exciting, but it feels a lot like a collection of sketches in parts. “Lullaby,” for instance, has always felt like an unfinished song. And “Easier” has a little bit of a busker-rock sound, which wasn’t a big trend back then, but, sigh…
A few shakier moments aside, however, Yellow House holds up remarkably well. “Knife” is just as catchy as it sounded nine years ago, “Central & Remote” still outfoxes Fleet Foxes, and “Colorado” is still one of the most haunting tracks in their catalog. Grizzly Bear certainly got better, but this was a damn good start. (Note: I know this isn’t their debut, but Horn of Plenty was basically an Ed Droste solo record, so this is the first Grizzly Bear record as a band.)
Sound Quality: Great