In my review of Arcade Fire’s latest record Everything Now earlier this month, I stated that “the Canadian indie rock band basically owned the genre back in 2010” as other indie rock groups were on their last legs. If Arcade Fire were to have a real indie rock contender, Grizzly Bear’s 2009 record Veckatimest and its hit single “Two Weeks” would be the greatest challengers for the title. In 2017’s musical climate however, the fans began to forget about Grizzly Bear, especially as the genre they helped flourish in the late 2000’s heavily declined in the past five years since their hiatus.

Whether Painted Ruins is truly about today’s alarming political climate or not, as Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen’s lyrics lean more toward metaphor and prose then they do easily digestible sentences, the record is filled with images of looming dread over an unsuspecting and disillusioned narrator. “We woke with the mourning sound,” the chorus to the track “Mourning Sound,” is just one of many references to the concept of a “dreadful sound” that forebodes anxiety and turmoil. On “Four Cypresses,” Rossen sings:

A future, drawing down
Planes flying overhead so early
Make no sound
Four cypresses torn from the roadside
Great thundering noise from the hillside
Some thousands of years built it up
Some crumbling form to be torn down

On one such track, “Aquarian,” Grizzly Bear presents some of their darkest material yet:

Great disaster, shocking sight
Scream and run or test your might
Every moment brings a bitter choice
The knowledge you can’t win with what remains

Astral actor, find your fight
Walk beside your shadow life
Lay your body on the burning ground
That separates this mind from all that’s passed
Never reach the end

It’s almost satanic metal lyrics set to indie rock, comprised of an overarching theme of dread, destruction, and defeatism. Painted Ruins also holds the band at their very best musically, with tracks such as “Three Rings” and “Wasted Acres” displaying the musical intelligence within each individual band member. It’s also interesting to note that “Mourning Sound” is probably their most radio-friendly track since “Two Weeks,” and it exists on a record that is otherwise their most musically and lyrically complex. As Rossen says at the end of “Four Cypresses,” “it’s chaos but it works.”

What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.