SOUNDS LIKE: The very best things of a Grizzly Bear song wrapped up into one
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: This could be ... the best Grizzly Bear song ever? It is The Best Song of 2012, it's #1!!!
When Grizzly Bear convened to record their fourth album Shields, they had come together after some much needed time out of the spotlight and time apart from one another. Their approach with Shields was to make a more collaborative effort than the past, and it turned out to be very successful: members wrote pieces of songs on a dare on the spot to see what could come out on the other side and left all inhibitions at the door. The resulting album is yet another great act in their career, making the way for them to do whatever they like on future albums. But it's not about the future at this moment, no, it's about how one of the 10 songs on Shields, one of the deeper cuts and not one of the equally as good singles, is the Best Song of 2012.
"A Simple Answer", simply put, takes the best elements of any Grizzly Bear song before it and combines it into one epic, gorgeous six minute powerhouse of a song. It starts with Daniel Rossen's rollicking guitar only to quickly be overtaken by a roaring piano, one that rivals the insanely infectious melody of their breakthrough "Two Weeks". The first half of the song is straight out of the Department of Eagles playbook, as the ivory keys take charge and lead the path across the wasteland. Eventually, the harmonies of Ed Droste join in as they move forth over the tundra, heading for a burgeoning chorus that continues to build and build, only to take a few steps back to let Chris Taylor interject with his sax. Eventually, the journey this song takes you on comes to a halt, or as I noted in my review of the album earlier this year, you're all of a sudden singing a sea shanty at a funeral out to sea. The shift this song takes is almost unexpected, though not out of the question, the downtrodden synths give off the woozy seasick of the ship you're on, the baritone sax pumping out steam from its engine.
"No bliss, no light / Tell me it's all just a lie" Rossen sings near the end, but this isn't a lie, it's truth, it's fact. In time, there is bliss and light and truth that Grizzly Bear have made the best song of their career, giving us hope that they'll continue forward on their journey for many years to come.