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Grizzly Bear - Sorry For The Delay

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Artist: Grizzly Bear

Album: Sorry For The Delay

Label: Audraglint

Review date: Apr. 9, 2006

A year and a half ago, Grizzly Bear's exquisite Horn of Plenty dropped with barely a ripple, a bedroom recording of dreamlike lo-fi swirl and eccentric electronic embellishments that worked the same general territory as Animal Collective, Akron/Family and Songs of Green Pheasant. In the months since, though, mastermind Edward Droste has quietly forged a reputation for himself, convincing people like Drew Daniel and Final Fantasy to remix songs from his first album, reissuing the Kanine Records debut in Europe, and forming a four-person band. When I talked to Droste late last year, he had a new CD nearly wrapped, a denser, more professionally recorded work, he said, and the first to incorporate his whole band. A frustrating series of snags and delays ensued, so that as interest in Grizzly Bear built, Droste was left with no obvious way to capitalize on the situation. Sorry About the Delay must, in some sense, be a solution to this problem, a way to stay in front of a growing audience while the follow-up finds a label. Bur forget for a moment about Grizzly Bear's future and concentrate on its origins.

Sorry About the Delay are Droste's early songs, preceding even his partnership with Christopher Bear and dating from roughly his college days to the beginning of the Horn of Plenty sessions. They share the same delicate mood and fuzz-edged fabric as the debut; full of looped melody fragments, they are translucent concoctions of overlapping voices, delicate acoustic guitar figures and distorted field recordings the kind of songs that don't so much start and finish as they drift gradually to the surface and then subside. Like the songs on Horn of Plenty, they feel both fragmentary and of a whole, like scenes in a foreign movie you watch without subtitles.

The disc starts with its title song, floating gradually into earshot on top of hushed percussion and minimal bass. The silence within the cut is a presence in itself, a palpable cushion between distant snare shots and Droste's wandering, interlocking self-harmonies. "Baby, it's a lot of time to take / between what's right and wrong," he sings, over and over, as the track fades away like mist on a mirror. As on Horn of Plenty, Droste experiments with unusual found sounds; the diaphanous "August March" is bisected by what sounds like a helicopter taking off. There's a narcotic appeal to these songs, a sense of falling softly into an indeterminate bed without really getting a grip on words or melodies. The disc's lone cover, the Yes song "Owner of the Lonely Heart," confirms it, stretching and altering a familiar tune into nearly unrecognizable soft-focus washes of sound.

Sorry about the Delay never seems like a collection of second-bests. Granted, it doesn't add much to what we know about Grizzly Bear or take the band in a new direction you'll have to see a show or wait for the second album for that. But fans who enjoyed the debut will almost certainly like this one. It's just as good, if less surprising.

By Jennifer Kelly

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