Department Of Eagles: Archive 2003-2006

Department Of Eagles: Archive 2003-2006

B+

Department Of Eagles

Album: Archive 2003-2006
Label: American Dust
B+

Department Of Eagles

Album: Archive 2003-2006
Label: American Dust

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Before Daniel Rossen joined Grizzly Bear in 2005, he was already working up Van Dyke Parks-inspired pop pastiches with his NYU roommate Fred Nicolaus under the name Department Of Eagles. As the early demos on Archive 2003-2006 attest, Rossen’s knack for haunted Americana—so crucial to the Grizzly Bear sound, and so fully realized on DOE’s In Ear Park—was both innate and born out of fumbling experimentation. Archive doesn’t make any attempt to hide the sense of feeling around in the dark; five of its songs are titled “Practice Room Sketch,” which says everything about its pieced-together nature. And while the glimpses into the “process” are interesting only to the obsessive—the kind who’d be stoked to discover a brief snatch of Grizzly Bear’s “Easier” hiding in “Practice Room Sketch 1”—Archive justifies its existence with five more fully formed songs. With its Paul Simon-derived swing-shuffle and wordless high harmonies, “Brightest Minds” seems like a practice run for Grizzly Bear’s “On A Neck, On A Spit,” the same way the Chris Taylor-assisted standout “While We’re Young” could pass for a Veckatimest outtake. Yet the twanged-up Thom Yorke-isms of “Deadly Disclosure,” sleepwalking-marching-band rhythms of “Grand Army Plaza,” and bursts of distorted, atonal chords in “Flip”—suggesting that, for all his classical training, Rossen also really digs Sonic Youth—all reveal something new. By the time “Golden Apple” builds to a pocket-symphony climax of painstakingly layered cello tracks, it’s clear that Department Of Eagles is the rare group that fumbled toward brilliance.

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