Poised between the purposeful lo-fi mustiness of Horn of Plenty and the flawless indie rock mega-hit Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear came into their Warp debut Yellow House sounding like no other group in 2006. Yes, this was indie rock to challenge the genre’s zeitgeist acts — Animal Collective, The Microphones, Arcade Fire et al — as the Brooklyn group demonstrated an auto-didactic and idiosyncratic way of generating psychedelic music with laser-sharp focus and serious songwriting chops quite distinct from their peers.
Quietly experimental in its organic production and winding structure, LP opener ‘Easier’ lays out Grizzly Bear’s vast yet humble array of instruments — banjos, guitars, pianos, woodwinds, timpani-like percussion, a touch of brass — and breathes life into their little corner of the world, as spontaneous and playful as an attic jam session. Just when the group are setting themselves up as a rootsy take on The Beach Boys, a burst of Velvet Underground chugging propels the likes of ‘Knife’ to another corner of the loft, along with a surreptitiously anthemic lyrical volley of "it’s alright". While the music of Yellow House is often dark and dusky with ghostly vocal harmonisations and discordant death rattles, we never lose sight of just how life-affirming a record this is — as it’s put in ‘Lullabye’, "chin up, cheer up".
Yellow House is a ground zero album that went on to shape all alternative rock music in its wake — 15 years on its deep mystery is still singularly resounding.
“It boasts a sound that was outside of its movement, outside of movements in general. It’s one of those more timeless works, the ones that years down the line may linger and appear as if they could’ve come from any handful of eras at once. There is something enduring about Yellow House: the kind of music that at once feels archaic and foreign, but also new and surreally familiar due to its vague intimacy.” - Stereogum