Grizzly Bear: Sorry For the Delay (The Early Recordings)

Emerging from his Greenpoint, Brooklyn apartment after a 15-month 'hibernation period' that began in 2002, Ed Droste laid the groundwork for his Grizzly Bear project (and album debut Horn of Plenty) with seven early songs of winsome lo-fi pop. Now collected onto a 12-inch slab of white vinyl, the material precedes the current Grizzly Bear incarnation of Droste, Christopher Bear, Chris Taylor, and Daniel Rossen and therefore offers an interesting, half-hour glimpse of the group's originating sound.

Droste created Grizzly Bear as a pet project to be heard only by friends, so his bedroom folk ballads naturally possess an intimate and at times unpolished, even primitive feel; they're also sometimes destabilized by an experimental sensibility, likening the GB style to the 'freak folk' of Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, et al. There's definitely a hermetic dimension to Grizzly Bear's material, especially drowsy songs like “Sorry for the Delay.” The episodic “Sure Thing” is more polished and expansive by comparison, its electric guitars pealing brightly amidst a cymbal-driven haze of phantom voices in its opening half with darker, psychedelic ambiance infusing the second. While elegiac lullabies like “Fragments” leave a strong impression, the obvious attention-getter is Droste's cover of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” where Yes's slick and propulsive original is refashioned as a haunted folk chant. (Grizzly aficionados may already be aware that Horn of Plenty is available as a double-set with the original accompanied by remixes from DFA's Tim Sweeny, Castanets, Soft Pink Truth, Ariel Pink, The Double, Efterklang, Hisham Bharrocha, Simon Bookish, Solex, and others.)

May 2006