Department of Eagles features Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen, and their latest album is lousy with ursine contribution (Chris Bear played drums on several tracks and Chris Taylor produced the album and played bass and horns). DOE, Rossen’s project with Fred Nicolaus, is mostly a different animal, though.
Grizzly Bear’s disorienting multipart harmonic onslaught is nearly enough to incite aural claustrophobia, but Ear Park’s arrangements leave open space for single vocalists and studio pocket symphonies that capture the broken, fragmentary beauty of the unfinished Smile bootlegs with a success not heard since the mid-’90s output of the Elephant 6 collective.
Ear Park plays best when envisioned as an obscure lost classic. Rossen’s voice trembles with the haunting androgyny of some forgotten female jazz singer, accompanied by layers of uncomplicated instrumentation and rudimentary wordless vocals, porous enough to allow the ethereal sense of inescapable loss and the sadness of an unobtainable artistic ideal to resonate and permeate until every note glimmers with a halcyon perfection quickly marred and faded.
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