Throughout their career, Grizzly Bear has always ensured a sound that is both aesthetically ominous and darkly atmospheric. In many ways, their Yellow House album was as much about the spectrum of sound they explored, as it was about honest, sincere songwriting. Before and after that album it’s always been a superb spectral sound behind their music. As one-fourths member of Grizzly Bear, Daniel Rossen has contributed walls of sound, roaring guitars and melodic skill in spades. A true band in every possible meaning of the word (members line up in a horizontal line on stage, sharing equal presence and stances) Rossen and Co. have fashioned what amazing musicianship is really about. With this Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP Rossen showcases just how important his brand of music is and how high the atmospheres capably reach.
While this shouldn’t be a talk on Grizzly Bear and their dynamics, Rossen executes similar trademarks onto his music. Like the hushed demo recording of Rossen’s “Deep Blue Sea,” his voice is a fantastic marvel to behold because of his impressive delivery. On “Return to Form” Rossen layers strings and guitars behind him for an almost Department of Eagles-light arrangement. Double-tracking and layering his voice in a subtle way, the music’s rousing cellos and basses all nestle into a smooth transition once the drums kick in. For the EP’s short feelings (five songs of blissful music), the songs carry a strong weight of substance making for incredible highs. Ending with a pounding culmination, Rossen fills every crevice with various degrees of sound.
The EP ends with “Golden Mile,” a rollicking, driving tour de force that conveys a rich influence from The Beatles. There’s a swoon in the keyboards and the choral of voices behind Rossen as he sings “Another empty heart, another bitter smile” and the cascade of percussion around him soars to a tender release. The music on this EP is highlighted with magnificent touches in style and harmony and on “Golden Mile” Rossen switches from Baroque pop to a chugging country rock that either position forward is sublime. Mentioning the aforementioned “Deep Blue Sea,” the opening “Up on High” recalls that soft sentiment with strength, before the pensive feel of “Silent Song.” On the latter, the chiming chords and pedals allow the focus to lie with the feel and through this, Rossen sways the flow from side to side with impressive ease. It’s the kind of EP that makes you wish it was a full-fledged LP; a somewhat bittersweet feeling because the music is so strong.
And in the end, the way the EP grows from song to song – with a seamless flow inherently added midway through creation – Silent Hour/Golden Mile never ceases to impress. Rossen makes the listener get lost in his dreamy world of sounds and as he sings “There is bliss in this mess, there is madness all around,” anyone would be foolish not to believe him. His own method of madness, with whichever band he’s with or on a solo career with such a fine debut, Rossen is downright excellent on this EP.