Review Summary: Dissected slowly, however, In Ear Park reveals itself to be an intriguing effort full of small flourishes that beg to be explored.
Grizzly Bear’s 2006 sophomore release Yellow House dreamily interpreted modern landscapes as huge forests, approaching towering skyscrapers with the same apprehension and dark sense of mystery that was once attributed to clumps of withering oak trees. Department of Eagles, the side project of Grizzly Bear guitarist Daniel Rossen, for the most part continues down the same twisted alleys as his more famous band on their new release In Ear Park.
This isn’t to say that these two bands are identical. ‘No One Does it Like You’ skips along with a ghostly boogie and immediate sense of satisfaction that Grizzly Bear usually avoids. The use of what sounds like a sixty year old bassoon at the beginning of the track immediately brings to mind some rock staples, specifically the vaudeville-styled pop-deconstruction of Sgt .Pepper’s and Radiohead’s stunning ‘Life in a Glasshouse’.
Further distancing Department of Eagles from their hairy relatives is their employment of a more intimate production value, rather than the specter of proximity Grizzly Bear toys with. ‘Teenagers’ begins with violin tugs where hear the hairs of the bow snapping from friction is almost audible, and the huge instrumental swells on ‘Waves of Rye’ foster a disorientation that accentuates the twirling lurch of the music. It may not be as polished as the reflective mahogany Yellow House was constructed out of, but the effect is oftentimes just as stunning.
Little sunlight streams through the overcast skies that hang heavy over In Ear Park, and a tense mood that yearns for resolution is generously splayed all over the album. While Rossesn’s uniformly strained vocals perfectly mesh with the continuously shifting sea of apparitions churning around him, the album feels a bit monotone taken in all at once. Dissected slowly, however, In Ear Park reveals itself to be an intriguing effort full of small flourishes that beg to be explored.