We are spoiled to have the collective brainchild of the four innovative individuals that comprise the Grizzly Bear quartet. Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen lead the Brooklyn maestros into worlds fraught with perfect dynamics, haunting moods, and pitch-perfect harmonies. Truly, few are the number of bands that can match Grizzly Bear’s formidable musicianship. Their knack for sonic balance is a wonder to behold.
Forgive me for treading briefly on holy ground, but Grizzly Bear easily evoke the comparison of an indie Beatles. Hear me out: two quartets bursting at the seams with talent, scarcely capable of writing anything not worth listening to, led by two interchangeable frontmen, both backed by two aesthetically gifted musicians without whom the music never would have been as good. It’s not too much of a stretch, and I doubt I’m the first individual to have observed Grizzly Bear’s Beatle-esque qualities.
But Chris Taylor (aka CANT) serves as the George Harrison to his particular quartet. His musical prowess is superb (woodwinds, backing vocals, his native bass guitar, anything other than fronting the band, really), but his particular skillset is such that he unfortunately gets locked in the large shadows cast by frontmen Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen.
On the whole, Dreams Come True really feels like the garnish of a wonderful Grizzly Bear dish, only without any sides or much of a main course to accompany it.
That isn’t to say that this is a bad album, quite the opposite, actually. But going back to my original juxtaposition, stack George Harrison’s impeccable All Things Must Pass against The Beatles’ most lackluster LP, Beatles For Sale, and who comes out on top? Nine out of 10 would say The Beatles, and they’d be right. Though Harrison was a gifted songwriter and the Beatles wouldn’t have been anything without him; his work was better when folded in with the expertise of the Lennon/McCartney songwriting powerhouse. Such is the case with CANT and Dreams Come True.
The album is fraught with electronics that are unseemly to the folksy stylings of Grizzly Bear, but it’s a medium where Chris Taylor thrives. His knack for providing the perfect ethereal backgrounds for Grizzly Bear translates well to electronic music. He sings with confidence and character throughout, but particularly on “Believe”, “The Edge”, and closer “Bericht”, and it’s fun to hear him out of his usual elements. But my theory is only solidified by the fact that he absolutely flourishes on the instrumentals of this album and in his near-whispered singing. Taylor’s trembling vocals teetering atop the first two minutes of “She Found A Way Out” are truly where he is at his best. It’s Taylor in his element. The airy, bass guitar driven “BANG” and the haunting one minute instrumental “brokencollar”, are where his music sounds finest, not in the chorus driven “Answer”.
Overall, Taylor has tried his hand at electronic music, and succeeded. But are we surprised? No. The man can do anything in Grizzly Bear, why would that not cross over to his solo career? Unfortunately, we’ve all been spoiled by the quartet together, so a separate solo release from any one of them will leave us feeling largely unfulfilled. A blessing and a curse, if there ever was one.
Essential Tracks: “She Found A Way Out”, “BANG”, “The Edge”