At this point in the game, Grizzly Bear’s biggest hindrance is themselves. But on Shields, the band’s fourth studio output, they manage to rise above high expectations to create a record that trumps their already near-perfect back catalog. These Brooklynites have always been good at creating beautifully nuanced soundscapes and unexpected harmonies, and those things don’t falter here. “The Hunt” finds frontman Daniel Rossen lilting over a piano line that seems to breathe along with him, while “gun-shy” pairs the band’s quirky psych-guitar patter with a shimmying percussion track. In the past, these little sonic worlds have tended to envelop the vocals, but Shields finds the band upping their lyrical game. On “Yet Again,” Ed Droste delivers emotionally charged zingers like “If I could I would leave it all be / No chance to move backwards and see;” two tracks later “A Simple Answer” gives us three poignant verses about pushing forward that eventually double back into a eerie Rossen-led dirge. It’s a Grizzly Bear trick we’ve heard before and yet, like their albums, it just keeps getting better with time.


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