Grizzly Bear’s latest has the Brooklyn, N.Y., band letting down some of its defenses. After making its name with the meticulous, harmonious indie-pop on 2009’s “Veckatimest,” the quartet seems to loosen up. The album kicks off with “Sleeping Ute,” a guitar jam that crashes and tumbles, surprising yet still characteristically focused. The jazzy melody of “Yet Again” also feels familiar, until a noisy coda brings it to a delightfully chaotic close. Some vulnerability slips through the lacing, too, when Ed Droste’s usually honey-smooth voice starts to creak with longing on the spare piano ballad “The Hunt.” The arrangements are rich throughout, and Droste’s partnership with co-bandleader Daniel Rossen hits a high with “Half Gate.” The two trade vocal duty as the band eases gracefully between an excited skip and a grand, spacious echo. Though only slightly shorter than past releases, the album’s comfortable mood makes it an easy listen. Grizzly Bear has learned not to stress over its craft, and “Shields” feels all the more fresh as a result.
ESSENTIAL “Sleeping Ute”
Grizzly Bear play the Orpheum on Sept. 22.Andrew Doerfler can be reached at email@example.com