Department of Eagles
Tue Sep 30 2008
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
For Grizzly Bear, a pensive band that exploits music’s quieter aspects, a ferocious name creates a marked (if not laughable) contrast. Continuing in that contrarian vein is Department of Eagles, an electronic-folk not-exactly-side project formed by Grizzly Bear’s cofrontman Daniel Rossen and his freshman-year roommate at NYU, Fred Nicolaus, in 2000. In Ear Park, the duo’s second album—excellently produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, another college pal—is built on breezy harmonies and elegiac, lilting drifts. As a result, it sounds a hell of a lot like a Grizzly Bear album (drummer Chris Bear’s contribution means Ed Droste is the only member completely absent).
Echoing the warped sound of Rossen’s better-known band, Department of Eagles’ songs seem to have been recorded at the far end of an empty cathedral (see “No One Does It Like You”). Missing, though, are Grizzly Bear’s biting hooks (no “Knife” to be found) and punchy, pronounced rhythms. The surging oohs and aahs that energize and distinguish the quartet’s work (and will dominate its upcoming full-length, if songs unveiled in recent live performances are any indication) are Unisom-dosed affairs here. In Ear Park has its gorgeous moments—what effort from any of these guys doesn’t?—but it ultimately leaves you feeling that Grizzly Bear’s got all the bite.
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