In an interview about Silent Hour/Golden Mile, his debut solo EP, Grizzly Bear‘s Daniel Rossen spoke of feeling at a loss creatively after the touring cycle for the band’s third album ended, and of the possibility that he could have given up music all together. That exhaustion seems to have given birth to this short but mighty EP. In it, he debates the emotional implications of keeping feelings locked up inside instead of letting them roam free, with the same formidable grace he’s demonstrated since his pre-Grizzly Bear work with Department of Eagles.
Running just 23 minutes, Silent Hour/Golden Mile may be brief, but it never feels light. A line on “Silent Song” seems to pinpoint the emotional fulcrum that sent Rossen sliding; while the music gambols along like On the Beach-era Neil Young as produced by Jon Brion, Rossen declares, “If I had a chance to see the friends I’ve loved and lost and beg for their return/ I’d dig until I bleed, drink until I rot.” It’s a rare moment of abject emotional catharsis on an EP that mostly finds Rossen dancing around opposite ends of the confessional scale. The baroque “Golden Mile” has him advising, “say the words in your mind before you shout them out loud,” and on “Return To Form,” he decides to “go let ‘em out” without fear of the consequence.
These moments are bolstered by fizzing snares and soaring violins, with rousing orchestral filigrees at the songs’ foundations rather than simply sitting atop them. Penultimate song “Saint Nothing” strikes a chilling contrast: Made up of overdriven piano chords, oboe plumes and a gentle liturgical chant, it’s profoundly still and beautiful. Rossen implores a saint to divulge their name, searching for confessional succor, but on an even footing. Rossen is still negotiating that balance.