Painted Ruins

Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
Critic Score
Based on 31 reviews
2017 Ratings: #260 / 887
User Score
Based on 440 ratings
2017 Ratings: #151
Liked by 12 people
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The Skinny
Whilst their run-of-the-mill, dream-pop contemporaries experiment with a range of distortion pedals, this band continue to show that use of every crayon in the box (or, rather, every seat in the orchestra) can create a true masterpiece.
A.V. Club

In all, Painted Ruins represents the band’s strongest compositions since Yellow House—and still, there’s something weirdly revolutionary about this kind of formalism in 2017.


The five years of space following has worked in their favour — leading to the conception of a creature that breathes confidently with a heavy sense of hyper-ambition in ‘Painted Ruins’.

Under The Radar
Grizzly Bear often burrow themselves into a part of your subconscious that you don't fully understand. But listening to them having metamorphosed into such a great band over the course of five albums has been nothing short of a revelation, and this album hits at some truly dark recesses previously uncharted by the band.
The Line of Best Fit

While the music industry has changed and evolved since Shields, on Painted Ruins Grizzly Bear prove that there is still a space and a sound that only they can occupy.

Northern Transmissions
Its odd and sometimes dissonant sound may turn off listeners looking for the next “Two Weeks,” but those willing to give it a little more patience will find a rewarding record that ranks with the band’s best.
Consequence of Sound

Painted Ruins is a wondrously complex adventure that rewards attention and patience yet is never inscrutable.

Pretty Much Amazing

It’s a challenging piece of work. Grizzly Bear have always had high expectations of their audience, and Painted Ruins is no exception. You need to meet it on its terms.


The chief irony of Painted Ruins is that this album tackling the heavy subject of all things crumbling and passing ends up being the band’s most alive, cohesive offering.

Drowned in Sound

There is no mistaking Grizzly Bear's sound; this album doesn't drastically change anything from their 'formula', but when said the formula is so enthralling and unpredictable, no wonder it still hasn't lost its sheen after a decade creating it.


Painted Ruins stands as Grizzly Bear's poppiest record, though not at the expense of the band's trademark orchestral whirlwind and deliberately obscured and abstracted messages.

The Guardian

So imaginative and detailed is their sound that only the slightest fine-tuning is ever really required, and when its constituent parts come together, as during the wonderfully groggy climax of album closer "Sky Took Hold," there are few that can match them.

The Observer

While the detailing is still incredibly myopic – Three Rings evokes a dirty iceberg slipping into the sea shard by shard – bold paint splatters now daub their crosshatchings.

The 405

Painted Ruins is a harmonious, richly textured tapestry of songwriting and performance, their most mature record to date.


Painted Ruins is very much a Grizzly Bear record, with the band capitalizing on the glorious, experimental melodies that have become their hallmark. But the project is much more avant garde than their previous records, with their greater abundance of catchy hooks and hits.


The intricate compositions on the band’s fifth album are bound tighter than ever, evoking distant images and emotions that continually shift in and out of focus.

Slant Magazine

Painted Ruins stops short of fearlessly exploring new musical terrain, instead content to approach the familiar from new angles.


Occasionally, Painted Ruins' drifting meditations border on meandering, but its open-ended beauty is well worth the close listening it takes for the album to fully reveal itself.

Rolling Stone

The sound is still ornate – on "Glass Hillside," nylon-string embroidery melts into gilded choirs, with oddball melodies recalling Brit proggers Soft Machine. Elsewhere, simple cybernetic beats and synths dominate.


You get some of the space of Yellow House, some of the careful orchestration of Veckatimest, some of the more overt rock elements of Shields. But this one takes those elements and adds others to take the band’s sound in a different direction.


A swirling, abstract painting of an album, and an eclectic slow burner, ‘Painted Ruins’ serves more as a fascinating indication of where Grizzly Bear could head next than anything else.

The Needle Drop

Grizzly Bear returns from a five-year hibernation with a mirror image of their previous album, Shields.

The Independent

Too much hard work – on the listener’s part, as well as theirs – is invested, with scant return.

Tiny Mix Tapes

On Painted Ruins, sonic exploration causes the album’s atmosphere to rise to salience and all but divest its songs of distinctiveness and viscera.

Grizzly Bear 5th studio album, Painted Ruins, is their most glossy record and at this point, their folk oriented sound is more on the backburner for Art rock record with some top notch production providing some nice psychedelic sounds and still containing that lovely subtly the band is known for, Painted Ruins still follows the suit that every record is good by the band, although i do think this is a slight downgrade with less memorable moments than the previous 2 albums, especially within the ... read more
A more bombastic Grizzly Bear album in its own way. Most of the songs on the album follow a formula of coming out the gates pretty fast, exploding in the middle, and sizzling into a beautiful and awesome quieter groove until the song's end. This is a formula not very many bands other than Grizzly Bear tend to use, which is why I'm fine with them using it so often on Painted Ruins. Plus, the instrumentation, melodies, and lyrics are lovely. Something never really worth commending in previous ... read more
The vocals from Ed on this album fail to captivate me in the same way they did on a lot of the band's older records, but I still dig this new album. It's very layered, textured and well composed, a lot of grand, satisfying crescendos and grooves that I find myself really gravitating towards. There are just a handful of songs here that really fail to pull me in, primarily bc of the singing, but regardless I enjoyed this.

Fav Tracks: Systole, Three Rings, Neighbors, Aquarian

Least Fav Tracks: ... read more
Grizzly Bear long-awaited follow-up to 2012's Shields is a slow-burner of an album that approaches the well-known subtleties of the band - some of indie-rock's greatest instrumentalists as a whole - in a faint, even shy fashion. That is not to say that Painted Ruins is not impactant and full of life - hell, it might just be the band's most vibrant-sounding effort yet, with its delightfully vivid, head-wrapping mix of folk guitars and new-wave synths all the same, each instrument fitting ... read more
This album surprised me. I liked the 2 or 3 advanced tracks on this album, but thought it sounded a bit watered down (pop-ified) for Grizzly Bear. Not that at I'm a GB fanboy and was longing for a "return to form", but GB seems to have simultaneously recaptured some of the avant garde apporach to their songcraft a la Yellow House, while also sounding fresh and challenging. I don't that the album deserves the highest user rating for 2017 (though that will likely change), but it ... read more
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Added on: May 18, 2017