Archives 2003-2006 Archives 2003-2006


Department Of Eagles Department Of EaglesArchives 2003-2006

7.5 / 10

Department Of Eagles, Archives 2003-2006 4AD

However they may try to disassociate themselves, Department Of Eagles could never free themselves from the weight of being the little brothers, or the band in the shadows, of the exalted Grizzly Bear. Nevertheless, that’s not a problem, because it’s not their intention. In parallel to one of the most special pop bands we have right now, Fred Nicolaus and Daniel Rossen’s project has always been intended as an outlet for Rossen’s more personal songs that don’t fit in with the mother band. Specifically since Grizzly Bear started to triumph, and as Department Of Eagles existed as a project beforehand. Set up in 2000 when its two founders were roommates at NYU, the band was born practically by coincidence, and in the same fortuitous manner managed to make a niche for itself in the recording world. From them came the seed of the band that later flourished, although in light of how unnecessary it is to understand one project without the other, this compilation gives us a few clues about the forerunners of both.Within the timeframe these songs were produced within, a psychedelic fever began to timidly sprout. It was when the today-unbearable group CocoRosie came out with “La Maison de Mon Rêve” (2004), in 2005 the voices of Sufjan Stevens and Animal Collective began to be raised and then, yes, then, in 2006, Grizzly Bear put out “Yellow House” and showed themselves to be entirely ahead of their time. So were Department Of Eagles at that time, and they had managed to be like that, paradoxically, by following a completely vintage aesthetic that seemed to look backwards to locate itself in some palace from another century. If Grizzly Bear’s albums sound like they are shot through with gold, those of Department of Eagles are no lower in the ranks of royalty. The majority of us know them for their captivating and malleable “In Ear Park” from 2008 –dedicated to Rossen’s father, who died in 2007– but their scrolls of distinguished pop had already begun to enchant some years earlier, specifically in the forgotten “The Cold Nose” (2003), a work that owes its entire reason for being to the album that was driving us all crazy around that time ( “Kid A”), which showed us a band with a much more panoramic focus, and revealed their ability. For its part, “Archives 2003-2006” plays the keys explored later by Grizzly Bear in the two precious gems of high-flying pop we know as “Yellow House” (2006) and “Veckatimest” (2009). As a sample, that marvellous “While We Were Young” is a crystal-clear, lively mirror of the peak “While You Wait for the Others”.

The inseparable companion and producer Chris Taylor, who is also engineer for The Morning Benders, Acrylics and Dirty Projectors, appears to be responsible for the mixes. He contributes that air of decadent, Elizabethan recording that reminds one both of Disney fantasy and the more oxygenated areas of the career of Van Dyke Parks. The style condensed in “Archives 2003-2006”, broad-minded, but with the heart sheltered, appears with its sound run through with these precious and already-characteristic neoclassical suites. It brings together very rudimentary material and more elaborated material. The majority are odd pieces and formerly lost or abandoned recordings that weren’t favoured in their day. There are also mere rehearsals in their beginnings, B-sides that could perfectly well have been on “In Ear Park” and discarded cuts from an album they tried to move ahead with in 2006 and which ended up in the attic. Nevertheless, all the songs show an exemplary presence. “Archives 2003-2006” is an intimate, high-voltage ticket to the past that connects with the spirit of longing and nostalgia that they gave to “In Ear Park”. A luminous catalogue that radiates a diffuse, yet powerful light that will continue to shine however much time passes. An illustrious repertoire that confirms to us that voluptuousness belongs to the mother band, but that the reach of Department Of Eagles can continue to unfold in various directions, simply by looking back in time. Cristian Rodríguez

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