By no means is “Shields” a perfect record … no single track is as accessible or transcendentally beautiful as the song “Two Weeks” on “Veckatimest.” Instead, “Shields” does away with the dollops of reverb and hushed vocals that characterized 2009’s “Veckatimest” with 10 of the band’s most direct and concise songs yet. Stripped down vocals, modest instrumentation and inventive compositions comprise “Shields.” The Brooklyn group seems well adjusted in stripping their seamless blend of indie, baroque pop and folk down to its basics. Ed Droste’s vulnerable yet soaring vocals, Daniel Rossen’s innovative and jazz-nuanced guitar work, Chris Taylor’s polished production and Christopher Bear’s complex and tasteful percussion make “Shields” one of the finest albums of 2012.