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Rhythm & Views

Grizzly Bear

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Pop-culture geeks of a certain age may recall the episode of Star Trek in which Spock, playing his Vulcan lute, improvises with some hippie-alien musicians hitching a ride on the Enterprise to a planet known as Eden. Lots of contemporary music reminds me of how I felt listening to that brief sci-fi jam; I tend to call it "alien folk music." Devendra Banhart plays it, as do Joanna Newsom, Mercury Rev and Akron/Family, for starters.

So does the Brooklyn, N.Y., band Grizzly Bear on its spacious and delightful second album, Yellow House. This effect is best exemplified on tracks such as the hypnotic "Lullabye" (with its scratchy, unidentifiable sound effects, and birdlike flutterings of guitar) and the morose chamber music of "Marla" (the result sounding like a subdued, distant circus band). Even the sweetest pop confection here, "Knife," sounds as if it were beamed down from Venus by '70s-era Brian Eno. Which is a good thing.

Elsewhere, sweet vocal harmonies meet darkly beautiful acoustic-guitar meanderings that invoke the spirit of John Fahey. Psychedelic pop melodies collide with country twang and off-kilter blues in "On a Neck, On a Spit," which seems to evolve into a swelling minimalist mantra.

No matter what sound they choose to conjure, the members of Grizzly Bear play music that is vaguely, unnervingly familiar and all the more beguiling for it, like music you might have heard in a dream that you never knew you had.

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