Monday, October 20, 2008

In Ear Parkby Department of Eagles

Review by Ian Gittins

Department of Eagles' debut album, 2003's whimsical-yet-sharp The Cold Nose, was a quiet pleasure scarcely noticed outside of a handful of indie-electronica cognoscenti. Five years on, this eclectic follow-up deserves a wider audience.

The band is essentially a side-project of Grizzly Bear singer-songwriter Daniel Rossen, who developed its dreamy songs with cohort Fred Nicolaus. Ear Park was a nickname the pair gave to a park they used to visit in Los Angeles, and the album's mood is a pensive, sepia-tinged nostalgia, suffused with a weary melancholy and shot through with intimations of mortality.

This is a late-night record, spectral yet immediate, possessed of a sparse, urgent grace. Folktronica essays such as "No One Does It" and "Around the Bay" suggest Grandaddy or Band of Horses if their good ole' boy bonhomie were replaced by an alien shimmer. The gently knowing "Teenagers," a sleek-yet-vulnerable pop song, unfolds at some blessed point halfway between Elliott Smith's doomed confessionals and Beck's post-modern trickery, while Nicolaus and Rossen's multi-tracked, keening vocals ache with insatiable, unspecified yearning throughout. Low profile or no, In Ear Park is a triumph.

The album is available at E Music. Here is the Link

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