Bettering the already respectable showing of Horn of Plenty, its '04 debut, Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear journeys down an evocative and fertile path, which is partially (and purposely) obscured by misty turbulence on its follow-up, Yellow House. Just as elaborate and transcendent as its predecessor, this latest effort is less reliant on tape-looped fragments, subliminal still-frames, and whimsical secondhand thoughts, concentrating instead on troubled romantic illusions. Singer-songwriter Edward Droste's ensemble combines simple acoustic warmth with abrupt icy discord, forging a post-psychedelic mood that pervades the album.
"Lullabye" floats like a chiming neoclassical reinvention of Simon & Garfunkel's "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme," until thick, percussive guitar chunks tumble down. A fuzzy piano coda seals "Knife," a hazy, narcotic requiem. By the time it reaches the ominously whistled premonition "Plans," Yellow House becomes noticeably more downcast. The bluesy piano dirge "Marla" recalls Nick Cave's mustiest mantras, sans the morbid baritone bravura. Over the course of several close listens, the solemn panorama speaks with greater eloquence and a majestic charm. The stark yearning of this tenderly rendered Goth noir (and the infrequent chamber-pop asides) makes it the star-crossed soundtrack for a stormy late-night phantasm.