Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest

It's still quite shocking that Grizzly Bear's debut, Yellow House, caused the commotion it did. The Brooklyn four-piece was clearly adept at exploring harmonies that intermingled within fairly odd, acoustic-backed arrangements — but instead of words, often they cooed their way through much of the record. In that sense, Veckatimest is a giant step forward — lyrics abound, and Papa Bear Edward Droste turns a number of the lead vocal duties over to Daniel Rossen (who made a splash last year with his critically acclaimed Department of Eagles project). In a live setting, this band has always been about creating an intimate, sometimes otherworldly vibe, which manifests itself here, too. Songs like "Dory" and "Ready, Able" are gorgeous, floating pieces that pair faint, traditional "indie" guitar riffs with a rhythmic yet atmospheric texture. Opener "Southern Point" and lead single "Two Weeks" skirt along the lines of folkier pop — you think you hear Crosby, Stills & Nash at one moment, but they shift tempos so quickly, yet smoothly, you know it's more than just a "Wooden Ships" rip. While Yellow House had its down moments, here they've balanced that out with refined vocals and a drive for rhythm. With high-profile gigs with Paul Simon and Radiohead last year, the pressure was surely on to deliver something spectacular. Veckatimest does.

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