Though full of baroque, detail-rich production and latticework melodies, Shields also offers an emotionally resonant core.
Delicate beauty and refined presentation still rule on the Brooklyn mainstay’s fourth album, Shields, but the balance is subtly shifting.
Shields works because of its complexity rather than in spite of it.
This is an ensemble that seems to have reached a sort of pinnacle in collaboration and musical communication.
While Shields may mark a transition for the band in terms of the immediate emotional impact of their music, it is clear that they have not in any way abandoned their expansive approach to melody and song structure.
Shields growls and purrs in ways Grizzly Bear has never before.
What’s most remarkable about Shields is not so much that Grizzly Bear have gotten more comfortable with ratcheting up the intensity, but rather that they’ve arrived upon a sound that’s louder and fuzzier while maintaining a uniquely ornate beauty.
The album is filled with wonderful little moments that add up to create a remarkable whole.
Though at time reaching heavenly heights, Shields is, as the name suggests, a heavy, protected album, stuffy with an ennui particular to the young and gifted.
Any mention of Shields being slightly more up front and rougher around the edges is not to say that isn't still beautiful.
The praise for this album must also be given to their ability to keep up their standard of timeless, mood-enhancing music.
While it's not as obviously big a statement as Veckatimest was, Shields is plenty ambitious in its own right, and its complexity demands and rewards patient listening.
With Shields, they still sound like Radiohead at a Buddhist retreat, but the songs are more muscular.
‘Shields’ is an engrossing, beautiful work which could only come from Grizzly Bear, and only at this point in their career. Stunning.
If their painstaking studiocraft has in the past seemed over-refined or even fussy, here they’ve discovered a new wildness, a liberating sense of drama.
Shields is both well-mannered and demanding, subdued but always bubbling under the surface.
For all the strange twists and turns, the rich layers and dark beauty to be found, nothing here grabs you and sets up home in your heart like ‘Veckatimest’ did.
The hard work they put into Shields deserves recognition, even if it occasionally strikes as too labored and considered.
Pretty but formless, Shields plays like a calculated retreat into something altogether indistinct and inconsequential.
|# 14 -||A.V. Club|
|# 38 -||AllMusic|
|# 25 -||BBC|
|# 10 -||Clash|
|# 40 -||Consequence of Sound|
|# 39 -||DIY|
|# 39 -||Exclaim!|
|# 33 -||Gigwise|
|# 12 -||Gorilla vs. Bear|
|# 19 -||MAGNET|
|# 17 -||NME|
|# 10 -||No Ripcord|
|# 6 -||Obscure Sound|
|# 25 -||Paste|
|# 27 -||Pazz & Jop|
|# 9 -||Piccadilly Records|
|# 10 -||Pitchfork|
|# 19 -||PopMatters|
|# 6 -||Pretty Much Amazing|
|# 35 -||Rolling Stone|
|# 17 -||SPIN|
|# 25 -||Spinner|
|# 16 -||Stereogum|
|# 13 -||The Fly|
|# 14 -||The Guardian|
|# 31 -||The Line of Best Fit|
|# 12 -||Time Out London|
|# 8 -||Uncut|
|# 9 -||Under the Radar|
|# 9 -||Urban Outfitters|