The most immediately noticeable aspect of Silent Hour / Golden Mile EP, the first full solo release by Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen, is that it sounds a lot like Grizzly Bear. Almost exactly like Grizzly Bear. From the chiming, multi-tracked guitars to the softly booming timpani and muted woodwinds, many of the elements here are far from new additions to the Grizzly Bear oeuvre. However, with his dexterous songwriting ability and soaring, otherworldly voice, Rossen manages to breathe new life into the Veckatimest formula, delivering a set of subtly gorgeous folk songs that, along with his recent work with Department of Eagles, should establish Rossen’s standing as one of our era’s finest songwriters.
Opening track “Up On High” begins with a warm, Faheyesque series of acoustic guitar chords before blossoming into a rambling string-assisted folk-rock track, with Rossen declaring that “in this big empty room / you finally feel free.” Indeed, one gets the feeling that Rossen feels a greater sense of artistic liberty in this setting. Case in point: the sprawling, album-highlight piano ballad “Saint Nothing.” Over the course of a plaintive five minutes, Rossen navigates an achingly beautiful, delicately-recorded accompaniment of piano and woodwind. Particularly remarkable is Rossen’s willingness to allow silence to take hold of the track: It never seems to rise above a whisper, rendering Rossen’s lilting melody all the more heartbreaking.
At a brisk 24 minutes, Silent Hour / Golden Mile leaves the listener with a fulfilling, cohesive document that never outstays its welcome. (8/10)