CD Reviews: Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Lil Wayne
“Shields” by Grizzly Bear
Reviewed by Ana Mezic
Grizzly Bear’s new album, “Shields,” is essentially a two-part work of art.
The flow from accessibly melodic to an overpowering tsunami-like climax is a practice Grizzly Bear mastered whilst crafting its 2009 release, “Veckatimest,” and is present in the two singles as well as, “What’s Wrong” and “Gun Shy.”
The second grouping of songs strays even further from their “Yellow House” dream-rock days. Despite maintaining an air of mournful grace found most easily in the pitch-perfect depth of Daniel Rossen’s vocals, “Shields’” music has a lighter emotion than previous releases.
Still, Rossen’s lyrics remain haunted yet hopeful while clever phrasing, “And why / Do I always feel it all the same? / The blisters in my eyes / Recite / A guide that has only led me stray /And even as I limp, you smile,” weaves itself throughout the artists’ palpable musical talent.
Critics have exhausted their praise for Rossen and Edward Droste’s innovative guitar playing which closely resembles an alternative take on Jimi Hendrix’s rhythmical style with interpretive jazz rooted chord progressions. However, drummer, Christopher Bear’s jazz-rock fusion style is often over-looked despite the uniqueness and vintage feel it gives the album.
Overall, Grizzly Bear managed to keep some of the essential components that worked so well on “Veckatimest” without sounding cliché or dull because of the more-developed lyrics, lighter tone, and countless melodic hooks that “Shields” has brought to the table.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“Centipede Hz” by Animal Collective
Reviewed by Emerson Malone
No one can make a cogent argument that Animal Collective is derivative.
The only fair comparison that can be made with the band is with its own previous works. “Merriweather Post Pavilion,” the band’s 2009 record, was a landmark creation. It was magnificent and complex. Few other albums are so concurrently youthful and meaningful without ever getting boring or obnoxious.
AnCo changes their sound with every album, never fully content or consciously residing in any particular niche. If “Merriweather” was the band’s astral work, contentedly floating in the cosmos, “Centipede Hz” is the antithesis.
The band’s child-like eccentricity is the glowing foundation for their sound. The new album eviscerates any residual soul and leaves it irresolute on what it wants to be. It’s creative and undeniably original, but wholly insubstantial.
It is ostensibly a commentary on the overwhelming traffic of radio and television signals transmitted into space. The clustered overindulgence of sounds imbues the songs with claustrophobia. The album makes you feel trapped inside a fish bowl on board the International Space Station.
Noah Lennox, who goes by the moniker Panda Bear, is a multi-instrumental member of the band. In an interview with Grantland, he insisted that he has tried to stop thinking about how people will interpret their music.
“I feel like it’s kind of a dangerous way of going about things,” he said. “The safest way for us seems to be just to make sure we’re really excited about what we’re doing, and if people hate it, at least we can defend it in an honest way.”
Avey Tare, another multi-talented member of the band, asks in “Monkey Riches,” the album’s eighth song with self-conscious lyrics, “Makes me wonder how I even wrote this song; doesn’t that occur to almost everyone?” before going into a screaming match with his blipping synthesizer.
Now these well-respected, psychotic DJs may be senselessly weird, but at least they’re honest with themselves.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
“Dedication 4″ by Lil Wayne:
Reviewed by Øystein Grønvold
If music albums were symbolic representations of genital size, Lil Wayne’s “Dedication 4” would not make the rapper as popular among the ladies as he claims.
The mix tape is Wayne’s fourth and last installment in his Dedication/Gangsta Grillz Tetralogy, and includes collaborations with famous hip-hop artists, such as Lil Mouse, Nicki Minaj and J. Cole.
With a few exceptions, the album is basically a 52-minute compilation of songs explaining the amount of “kush” and “puss” in the rapper’s life. The lyrics are comparable to the words of an 11-year old who just got introduced to the complete encyclopedia of profanity, only they are somewhat better structured.
The majority of the songs consist of what sound like repetitive drum machine tracks, accompanied by a synthetic overlaying melody – similar to the sound that is increasingly characterized in today’s mainstream hip-hop industry.
It’s not all bad, however. The closing song “A Dedication” stands out as the obvious highlight of the album, and offers a fresh beat backed up by a solid trumpet-line. In addition, it’s the only song on the album that does not revolve around women, drugs or money. “Amen” also stands out as a whiff of fresh air, incorporating gospel organs into the classic hip-hop beat.
“Dedication 4” joins the ranks of mainstream hip-hop albums, with uninspired lyrics and generic melodies. If you agree with Jay-Z, who once stated, “Rap is Poetry,” you’ll have a hard time acknowledging Lil Wayne as a rapper, or a poet.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5