YELLOW HOUSE, THE SECOND RELEASE from Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear, is a recording haunted by the past. One of its best songs, "Marla," was based on a recording made by singer and guitarist Ed Droste's aunt in the 1930s. In Grizzly Bear's version, the band resurrects the antique waltz with creaking piano, erratic brushed drums, and half-whispered vocals. It's a ghostly presentation that echoes throughout the album. One explanation is the band's choice to record its songs in spaces teeming with memories.In the summer of 2005, Grizzly Bear retreated to Droste's mother's home in Boston: the titular yellow house. Over the course of a month, the band worked up skeletal sketches into ornately constructed compositions, expertly recorded by bassist Chris Taylor. That idyllic setting—a family home, a New England summer—shines through in the supple strums of acoustic guitars, the gentle warmth of four-part harmonies and breezy woodwind flourishes. At the end of "Little Brother," there are even birds chattering.
"Yellow House is really nice. It's like a house all to itself," Taylor said before a show in Boston—a few miles from where Grizzly Bear recorded. "There's a nice backyard and porch. It was summer and nice weather. No air-conditioning, though. It made too much noise. So it was really sweaty, really hot."
After the initial sessions in Boston, Taylor moved into his grandparents' house in Connecticut to complete post-production. In part, he moved to seclude himself and finish the album. He also knew his grandparents were moving, so he wanted to "capture the essence of that space" while he still could.
"I moved all my stuff down into this basement I was always really afraid of as a kid. It's a very creepy place," Taylor explained. "I was still kind of afraid of it when I went down there to record. I guess I kind of battled some childhood demons."
The spooky sound collages and ethereal atmospherics that resulted cast a shadow on the original sessions' sunny mood. Like the recording at the yellow house, the music exhumed the ghosts of the spaces and was eerily shaped by lingering memory.