Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear
Review by Jae Melville
Grizzly Bear is a band that formed in 2002 in Brooklyn, NY.
Their new album, Painted Ruins, is their first full length album since Shields, which was released in 2012. Grizzly Bear is known for the unique vocals mixed with the electronic sounds and traditional instruments. I enjoy grizzly bear because there’s no one else quite like them.
Wasted Acres: The first song on the album starts off slow with a nice drum beat with piano which reminds the listener how their sound is. There’s a line in this song that says, “Why would you stay here?” which kind of makes me think about the song title and how if you stay in one space, you are only wasting the other space you have to grow and roam. I think this can mean many things. When it talks about a TRX 250, “trust in your machine”, I think that can be a metaphor for the mind.
Mourning Song: The strong guitar line in the beginning sort of gives you a feel for what the song will be like. Theres an electronic sound that contrasts with the guitar, in the best way possible. One of the heaviest lines in this song is “I do it all the time, let love age and watch it burn out and die.”
Four Cypresses: This song is a good example of the way they have a fast tempo and slow vocals. The dynamics in this song are wonderful. I absolutely love the last line in the song, “it’s chaos but it works.” I feel like that line can be relevant to just about anything. It makes me think about art.
Three Rings: “You move on again” is the first line in this song, dreamy vocals followed by some echoing and harmonies. The drums in this song are incredible. The lyrics in this song give me heartbreak/breakup vibes, which is sad but I like the line, “I want to make it alright.”
Losing All Sense: The instrumentals in this song are really enjoyable. The lyrics remind me of lyrics that From Indian Lakes would write. For example, “Move too fast, here we are, can’t let go, take the past, own your scars, let it show” and “like a rogue wave you wash right over me, losing all sense of what my body could feel, I was able to drift away from here, I have lost all control.” Very From Indian Lakes esque.
Aquarian: “Aquarian” can be another word for Aquarius. “Astral actor, find your fight, walk beside your shadow life” is a great line in this song. The marching band type drumming in this one fits very well and its a very Grizzly Bear thing of them to do. It only proves how much they like the traditional instrument sounds.
Cut-out: The bass line and the breakdown in this one reminds me of Arctic Monkeys. It’s a very interesting sound and the vocals are relatively soft. I like the last few lines, “a panorama of all our faults looks the same to me when you’re waking up in the dark.”
Glass Hillside: There’s a very classical feel about this song. I feel like the lyrics in this song are on the darker side especially, “This frontier life, the sun of nothing, wasting time, there is no hiding. all is forbidden, all is forgotten.” It’s difficult to dissect this line. I found this song to be pretty catchy.
Neighbors: the harmonies in the beginning of this song feel welcoming and warm. The lyrics are sort of sad, “not a care in the world, that’s the way you play.”
Systole: This is probably my favorite song on the album. I love the classical guitar feel and the vocals, especially.
Sky Took Hold: This song is very dynamic in many ways, it starts out with drums that you can feel in your bones and starts to mellow out in the middle of the song. Like the song Losing All Sense, the lyrics in this song remind me of From Indian Lakes.
Overall, this new album is fantastic and I’m proud of Grizzly Bear for releasing such a masterpiece. Painted Ruins is really refreshing to listen to and I'm sure it’s refreshing to them to finally have a new album out after 5 years.
Listen to Painted Ruins here and catch Grizzly Bear live at their winter tour.