Grizzly Bear’s recent album was a bit of a disappointment for me; they moved away from their exercises in tone and multi-layered harmony on the excellent Yellow House into tighter, ‘song’ structures. Despite this, Veckatimest certainly had its moments and a chance to hear some live versions was more than enough of an excuse to head down to the Queen’s Hall.

Support from Beach House was decent fare. Singer Victoria Legrand has a great voice and was backed by a powerful drum support which varied from tribal to a bit monotonous. Norway though, is a cracking pop track. The way the melody seems to slow and drag, like when the pitch is gone on your record player, is oddly appealing. Songs were interspersed with Legrand mentioning how happy she was to be there and how nice the crowd were – her enthusiasm was such that I could assume she wasn’t and we weren’t.

Grizzly Bear started with the opening track from Veckatimest, Southern Point. This track  pretty much sums up why I prefer Yellow House. It is immediately appealing, a good show opener to perk interest, but it’s pretty conventional stuff and has very little depth. Veckatimest seemed too obsessed with perfection and sacrificed some of its emotional resonance.

The show highlights for me were the duo of Lullabye and Knife played early on, and the teasing satisfaction of a submerged version of Colorado.

After the conventional introduction of Southern Point and Cheerleader, Lullabye changed the atmosphere altogether, filling the boxy interior of the Queen’s Hall with waves and waves of intricate sound. The version of Colorado started off reminiscent of Liz Harris’ Grouper; sounding like it was emanating from the bottom of a nearby well. It never quite reached the epic, soaring state of the album version, but the tension created by it not doing so was equally impressive. There were some quality quieter moments too with Deep Blue Sea, Foreground and an acoustic version of All We Ask.

Victoria Legrand reappeared in a better mood to provide backing vocals to Veckatimest highlight Two Weeks, and got a chance to show of her talents again in a duet with Edward Droste on Slow Life.

The interplay between the vocals of Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen was fantastic. Rossen’s cherubic voice is from the more traditional folk-rock stable whilst Ed Droste adds expansive synthesized harmonies, sending the tracks into places most aren’t able to access. Chris Taylor enhances this further with his subtle electronic chicanery whilst Christopher Bear keeps rhythm.

Beach House’s new album Teen Dream is available on Spotify, so is Yellow House.

Photography by The Queen’s Hall, available on Creative Commons, full set here.

[Rev A – added paragraph, couldn’t recall the name of Slow Life..]

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