Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks

Mr Moore, the stick, if you please…


Jordan Sargent: Grizzly Bear songs are like paintings that you look at in a gallery. You go, “Well, this is pretty” and then you walk away.

Chuck Eddy: So what’s supposed to make these lethargic twits so otherworldly and awesome again? Must be the harmonies, since as innocuous as they are, they’re all I hear, beyond some piddly clinking at the end. And that’s enough for a full fucking page in the NY Times Sunday Arts section? Which I didn’t read? This is hookless, gutless, grooveless, shapeless drivel for college children who still wet Mom’s bed. “Doo wop” my ass.

John M. Cunningham: Sasha Frere-Jones recently called “Two Weeks” a “big, fat ice-cream cone of a song,” but while that certainly gets at the lush, creamy harmonies that have become Grizzly Bear’s stock-in-trade, the composition is also more refined than that bold, dripping metaphor would suggest. Its gently plinking piano (dutifully keeping time) and elegantly twisting melody remind me instead of a fancier dessert I had not long ago: banana brioche bread pudding in the compact shape of a mini-tart and filled in the center with liquid chocolate, which, once released, streamed down the plate into a dollop of, yes, vanilla ice cream. Exquisite and unexpected.

Michaelangelo Matos: The Decade of Hyperquirk cannot end fast enough. I hear this and all I can think is, enough Mountain Dew. Enough quoting Conan sketches to each other and laughing, then laughing some more because no one else gets it. Please stop thinking your preferring joke rap to actual rap is anything other than sad. I don’t care about your dollar-store xylophone or your unironic love of Billy Joel. And stop eating my fucking ice cream at 3 in the morning when you think I can’t hear you — your rent is late.

Hillary Brown: Not perfection, but it’s very cartwheels by starlight, which could clearly cause it to come off precious to come. Still, this song is no Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. It’s got some staying power and its quirk isn’t by the numbers.

Anthony Easton: Indie Rock stole Monica’s pianos and choirs. They should give them back.

Martin Kavka: I usually hate hyped indie bands. But even though this is by far the best song on Veckatimest, it alone justifies all the praise this band has gotten. Why? Because it’s simply an ordinary song. Its chords and bass line aren’t complex; its harmonies are predictable to anyone who has even a slight acquaintance with The Beach Boys and/or Buxtehude. But it’s all so purely done, as if the band had not only cognized the Platonic Form of Pop, but has completely exploded the boundary between the ideal and real. Bonus point for the Patrick Daughters video, which is the best thing he’s ever done. Shouldn’t Palm Pictures put out a Directors’ Series set of his videos now?

Martin Skidmore: I learn from the internet that this is neo-psychedelic chamber pop. Not just crappy indie, then. A piano plunks along, the singer tries to croon sweetly, and they try to be the Beach Boys, if the Beach Boys had been kind of clumsy and without songwriting or harmonising or producing talent.

Alfred Soto: Maturity is hard, especially when you’re still infatuated with the favorite records of your adolescence.

Alex Ostroff: Musically, Two Weeks has a nice swing to it, with jaunty piano chords and a loping, shuffling drum line. The barbershop backing vocals, organ arpeggios, and effervescent harmonies evoke Brian Wilson in a way that other thus-labeled indie bands never truly have. The lyrics are vague, but invert Wilson’s teenage symphonies of eternal love, focusing on the slow malaise of relationships – not “forever”, but yesterday, today, tomorrow, one day at a time. Heavenly.

Iain Mew: Feels like a choir of one trying to recreate songs he heard in a dream once, while the world’s gentlest circus juggles and whirls around him. Many listens in and meaning still eludes me, but it’s very intriguing and a touch addictive.

Matt Cibula: Pretty enough but it must be very tiring being Grizzly Bear, what with not being able to remember if you are Animal Collective or Vampire Weekend or a strange hybrid of the two. Plus all the standing all the time because on the evidence of this song your band has NO ASS AT ALL.

Doug Robertson: While on the one hand there’s clearly a great deal of talent at work here, on the other it’s just so pleasantly dull that it’s hard to give much more than a half hearted shoulder shrug about the end result. If you went to the crossroads to sell your soul to the devil and this was the skill set you got in return you’d be justified in being incredibly angry. Although by the sounds of this anger isn’t an emotion they’ve ever felt before. Slightly miffed, yes, but raw, pulsing anger – or any other emotion for that matter – no.

Ian Mathers: Most of “Two Weeks” just sort of lies there (a common problem with these guys), but that swoon of a chorus is actually pretty bewitching. And they seem to know it, too – the whole song is either chorus or clever feints towards the chorus. Maybe there’s hope for them after all.

38 Responses to “Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks”

  1. I thought most of you were going to like this. Justice exists.

  2. OMG <3 Chuck!!!

  3. New candidate for the Golden Banana of Discord 2009, looks like.

    For me, enh. Dull.

  4. I think Jordan’s comment is strangely more disdainful than Chuck’s.

  5. Thank you Chuck, Matos, Anthony, Martin and Alfred, for revealing in so many words that behind the curtain there is only a toy monkey with cymbals.

  6. I sympathize with Matos’s complaint, except for the fact that I don’t see how it applies to Grizzly Bear one whit.

  7. Hooray!

  8. (xpost to Matt)

  9. people like Chuck Eddy are so archaic and stodgy and “over”–this song is gorgeous, the complains are from people that listen to too much hold steady and feel the need to have everything ‘rock really hard’

  10. Funny how angry rock dudes get about this band, it’s as if all this internalized homophobia bubbles up to the surface and twists all this salty bearded rock heads pantie’s into a twist. Amazing how bitter and angry so many of these critics seem, I guess if you were once important and now just writing up blurbs for a site called the “singles jukebox” I would be bitter too

  11. Yeah, though my feelings on Grizzly Bear are clearly light years from John’s, I have to admit that I was stumped by Matos’s (nonetheless very funny) comment, too. Sounds like he’s talking about a shitty roommate, more than just a shitty band. Unless Grizzly Bear are considered an inside joke in certain circles (which might explain why I don’t get them.) Also not clear on how they’re so specific to this decade — Boring indie bands have been around forever, and I’m not entirely sure there were more in the ’00s than in the ’90s.

    (I should confess here, though, that I have been known to occasionally prefer joke rap to actual rap. But only in very select instances, honest. “I’m On A Boat” is pretty great.)

  12. I knew the world would come around to “I’m on a Boat.” I heard Grizzly Bear once, deleted them, and then enthusiastically recommended them to my friend. Go fig.

  13. I like Matos’ piece, I know what he means EXACTLY. Then again my blurbs get edited out of existence a lot these days so what do I know.

  14. It was really about their fans, not them, sorry.

  15. Anyway, with a 2.35 controversy rating (unweighted), Grizzlies are just outside the Top Ten of the Controversy Index.

    HOWEVER! I’ve also started weighting by total contributors (as I haven’t quite figured out the Lex Coefficient to weight by contributor) which gives Smokey Sez a spot at #8. Since that gets too inside baseball even for me, I’ll keep the Controversy Index unweighted for the most part, since it is also what allows me to keep La Roux at the top. (On the weighted chart, Blackout Crew are #1.)

  16. I sympathize entirely with Chuck’s blurb, but this and the radio session of “While You Wait for the Others” are the two exceptions, for me.

    And thanks to Martin for pointing out the video, which is indeed worth your time (at the very least, the first half is).

  17. This isn’t really related to this song, but sometimes the indie hate on this site reaches parodic heights. Like when you repeat ‘quirky’ so many times it doesn’t mean anything anymore.

  18. No, I know exactly what Matos means by “quirky”, and he’s absolutely correct to stick the knife in, b/c that shit is intolerable and needs ending. I mean…as ever, criticising us for hating something doesn’t mean anything unless you’re gonna put up a defence of it. I’ve yet to see an adequate defence of Hyperquirk.

  19. You misunderstood, I’m not going to defend hyperquirk, I don’t like it myself. It was not a criticism of criticism of quirk. The point is — it’s ridiculous to stick “quirky”on any and everything that isn’t Stargate or Timbaland (exaggarated). This song isn’t quirky. Call it bad pop, call it a shitty The Zombies ripoff, call it whatever. But there’s nothing remotely quirky about this sunny, simple tune. Blanket use of indie cliches takes away from the genuine criticisism that is aimed at the real ‘hyperquirk’.

  20. As I already mentioned, I was talking about the band’s fanbase, not the band.

  21. Or actually the hell with it–I was talking about the band too, with the xylophone comment. But point taken: “quirk” is as unhelpful a term as “hipster” itself, in its way. That said, so is a blanket term like “indie hate”–my tastes haven’t skewed so heavily indie in 13 years.

  22. Lex, do you think your dislike of this is because they aren’t rawk enough, plus of course your homophobia?

  23. “he’s absolutely correct to stick the knife in”

    I see what you did there.

  24. LOL that was obviously so unwitting.

    I wish straight men would stop using homophobia as an excuse when they get called out for being pathetic wimps, which is what Grizzly Bear codes to me, not “gay”. This is just a random googler but it happens a lot. I have enough difficulty with things that DO code gay.

  25. I wouldn’t think of G-Bear’s fanbase as being the Moutain Dew-and-joke rap set.

  26. y’alls seem like a miserable bunch that like to hang together and bitch. Do you get paid for it?

  27. I’m lucky that my diabetes removes me from Matos’s social category by default. Googler comments above are kind of gross >:o~~~~~.

  28. For the record, Diet Mountain Dew is awful.

  29. “y’alls seem like a miserable bunch that like to hang together and bitch. Do you get paid for it?”

    ^^^^^real talk

  30. Does anyone keep an eye on their scoring patterns? I have realised that 7 and 8 are much my most frequent scores, and low scores are less frequent than high ones. My default setting seems to be liking things. Obviously a high proportion of my low marks are indie singles.

  31. Do you know what’s more annoying than “Hyperquirk” indie scene kids who revel in in-jokes and irony? Critics like most of the above, who are neither clever, nor perceptive. If you dismiss a painting as soon as you walk away, STOP REVIEWING THE ARTS. You don’t know what you’re doing. And seriously, one of these basically reads “well, they don’t beat the Beach Boys, so I guess its just derivative, terrible filler” which is about the most ridiculous argument in the world. Bed-wetting college students are about ten times as mature as these ankle-biting clowns.

  32. is this the graveyard where ex-stylus writers hang?

  33. but for real is anyone here an actual PAID critic or is this just basically a support group? “GOOGLER ALERT!”

  34. It is so sad how one isn’t allowed to have an opinion any more if you aren’t paid to do so. Someone ought to repeal that law.

  35. I will happily accept payment to slag off Grizzly Bear.

  36. I just do it all for the love of listening to rotten music, obviously.

  37. I am an actual paid critic and I don’t like this song. Happy to explain but it’ll cost you.

  38. Actual paid critic Robert Christgau names album his Dud of the Month: