Grizzly Bear - ‘Shields’ + Japanese Cocktail
Ingredients: 2 ounces cognac, 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup, 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Mixing Instructions: Stir ingredients well with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel twist.
Notes: In The Book of Five Rings, 17th-century Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi used the five elements of Japanese philosophy (earth, water, fire, wind, void) to describe the various elements of battle. Listening to Shields, it becomes evident that this may be a fitting lens through which to experience Grizzly Bear’s fourth album, their top effort to date. The band takes the best from their first three albums and strips their instrumentation down to the most essential elements that make them so head-shakingly good…and so, well…Grizzly Bear.
There is a minimalism that most might not catch on first listen. It’s not that there isn’t a lot going on throughout the album, it’s that even when they’re throwing seven different kinds of smoke in terms of sheer sound complexity you can clearly hear each element, perfectly separate and unique from its musical surroundings, situated in harmony with the whole.
It’s hard to find any real weak spots from start to finish because even in the down moments you get the sense that it is all very intentional…even the void. And then there’s “Sun In Your Eyes” the album’s final track…*moment of silence*…a song that starts with the closing of a door (you’re in the inner chambers) and puts on a seven-minute master class. A song that David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors described as, “…the song I (have) been hoping Grizzly Bear would write.” Make yourself a perfectly-balanced cocktail and spin this album….the album we’ve all been hoping Grizzly Bear would create.