Monday, 13 October 2008

Department of Eagles - In Ear Park

I hope Scratchy will forgive me this, as it verges deep into the territory of music blogs that have become opinion-forming behemoths of the web. Places such as Pitchfork, Stereogum, Drowned In Sound, etc. But I can't resist posting something on the occasion of an event almost as unlikely as the collapse of western capitalism ... oh.

Well, perhaps 2008 will be remembered for two surprising and unlikely circumstances; the collapse of western capitalism and the release of the Department of Eagles second album, In Ear Park.

The Department of Eagles (or The Eagles, as I like to call them) will always have a special place in my knarled and twisted heart. When I discovered their first album, Whitey on the Moon UK, the '90s were still providing music's creative underpinnings, despite 9/11 and the fact that Dubya was enjoying the aroma of a freshly opened jar of Iraqi flavoured wuppass. It was 2003 and their bedsit-guitars and cheekily-sampled cleverness was a tonic, at a point when all hope seemed distant and everyone had turned inwards. For the first time in years I seriously didn't know what was coming next and it became my constant companion on the daily snail-trail from SW16 to W1; for many more weeks than was strictly sensible.

And then one half of the band, Daniel, became involved with indie darlings Grizzly Bear, immediately giving them a creative leg-up, all the way to the heights of coffee-table land. (Aach, I hate that, but it's true isn't it?) Fair do's, the Grizzlies have yet to bank it like your Coldplays and whatever, but among the more mature so called cogniscenti they became a name to drop. Yellow House just grew and grew, R.E.M. even gave them a support slot. This, I thought, was the last I would ever see of the quixotic charms of the Daniel and Fred show.

But I was wrong! Daniel, it appears, has talent to burn and wanted once again to lift the guttering torch of the Department of Eagles. Time for Fred to put down those cartons of Oreos and pick up his guitar! And meanwhile, everything has changed since 2003. The new arrangements are even more densely packed than the re-made tracks to be found on Grizzly Bear's 2007 Friend EP. One fine morning I walked into Soho's Sister Ray and inquired after Grizzly Bear, I was informed that they were "a bit jazzy". Close study of In Ear Park will confirm this critique. The key changes are utterly twisted. IMHO (as I believe current usage dictates) the Eagles have created an album of great musical and emotional refinement.

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