Sean Pecknold

You know how sometimes you just have to be in the right moment for a song to stick, for your ears to open up and really hear it right? So it was for me with "Two Weeks," the suddenly stunning lead single from New York City choral avant pop band Grizzly Bear's new full-length, Veckatimest. I may have first heard the song in conjunction with its video clip on YouTube. It was a striking if somewhat low-budget-looking video: The young men of Grizzly Bear sit singing in a row in a pristine church, dressed in Sunday best, their faces glossed to unsettlingly, artificially cherubic effect, until (spoiler alert!) they start to glow from the cheeks and mouths, then begin shooting off sparks. It's weird because their polished porcelain faces look perfectly creepy and cute, but the glowing and sparking effects look kind of chintzy. The song has such a big, sweeping finish, and you take it in while watching this relatively unconvincing visual climax. It didn't do the song any great favors.

I may have caught the song again at the Sasquatch! Music Festival out at the Gorge over Memorial Day weekend, but if so, it didn't make much of an impression. It was the third and final day of the long, awesomely exhausting weekend, and I was trying to cram in too many sets before taking off that night and only caught a few songs of Grizzly Bear, who were scheduled up against underdogs Black Moth Super Rainbow. Having heard the song maybe once before (the promo copy of the album only showed up like the day before Sasquatch!), I'm not sure if I failed to recognize it or just failed to see it performed; mostly I remember how the baking sun and the cumulative force of the weekend were making me feel like my feet were melting through the rubber soles of my shoes and into the amphitheater's hot concrete floor.

It finally landed for me last Thursday night. The long heat wave of a day had been swept up by sudden winds into a red-stained sunset and surrendered up to chilly cloud cover. There had been drinks, now it was after 2:00 a.m., and there might have been more drinks still. The room was dark and quiet, Grizzly Bear was playing on the stereo, and the song's delicate but insistent piano pulse, trembling guitars, rhythmic counteractivity, and crystalline vocal harmonies filled the room like some new weather system moving into an atmospheric vacuum—the low-pressure, melancholy verses giving way to the high-reaching, hopeful choruses and that terrifically drifting coda. Perfect for an evening of sweet upheaval, climatic or otherwise. It's hard to explain. Art Brut comes to mind: "I can't help it/Have you heard this song before?" recommended