In Ear Park crafts a forest of dark, lush trees where birds’ songs echo and a single lamppost’s bulb burns clearly. The listener gets lost in the vast park, and the music grows more perplexing and exhilarating as the secret trail unfurls.
The title track opens the album with a plainly plucked acoustic guitar, reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’s, but the instrumentation builds to impressive enormity. The faint piano and shaky voices swirl in the breezy melody that might be heard on an ancient merry-go-round.
Rossen and Nicolaus construct an especially playful sonic landscape in “Teenager.” A noisy piano meets disorderly drums, energetic handclaps and a horn section. The result is a song that could pound through muffled speakers at a carnival where kids stare at their contorted reflections in funhouse mirrors.
“Classical Records” also builds to a chaotic patter. The lyrics suggest the joys of the past that cannot be remembered or relived, especially in the lines “Do you listen to your classical records anymore/Or do you let them sleep in their sleeves while they weep?” The end of the song erupts with an alarming collision of noises, as if the attic collection of classical records and instruments is tired of resting on the shelves and violently escapes its captivity.
Department of Eagles construct and deconstruct their songs in a way that is experimental yet classical. Each song is built to an expansive intensity, and then it is broken down to meaningful sparseness. No song lacks complexity, but each song retains tranquility.