Department of Eagles have presented on their debut album a kind of calm schizphrenia. The Cold Nose is a mish-mash of styles, beats, instruments and moods all coming together to form an impressive and diverse record.
There are two main types of song presented here – starting off almost in an ABAB way, and this could be due to the fact the group is a duo, made up of a vocalist and guitarist, Daniel Rossen, and samplist and beatmaker, Fred Nicolaus. The first track “On Glaze” shows the instrumental beat/electronica side of the band and then the second “Sailing By Night” is an incredibly melodic, singer/songwriter ballad-esque number. “Noam Chomsky Spring Break 2002” (track three) sounds like something off Four Tet’s Rounds: piano, atmosphere and hip-hop breaks and “The Piano in The Bathtub” (track four) is back to more of a “song” with vocals. The album can’t really be reduced to something this simple at all but there is a dominance of these two styles being switched between as the main core of the songs. Each individual track is actually extremely diverse and has clearly taken a lot of collaborative work: of those previously mentioned “On Glaze” builds up with heartbeat synth-drum pulse and strummed acoustic/delayed electric guitars to move to a funky break and bass riff, and “Sailing By Night”s folky melodics develop into a darker keys, synth strings take over and enveloping drum repetitions build and finish the song along with keyboard dramatics. The songs are rich with range and at various points draw comparisons to a complex of artists such as the aforementioned Four Tet, Hood, DJ Shadow, Elliot Smith, Jim O-Rourke, The Beatles, Beck, Greenthink, Radiohead, and the list goes on and on.
There is an undeniable fun to be found in The Cold Nose
The songs can change part-way through, for example moving from experimental grounds to funk breaks and back via interesting instrumentals and samples in “Gravity’s Greatest Victory/Rex Snorted Coke” or just have small contained random bursts of different intrument/feeling/genre, such as in “Noam Chomsky…”. Impressive tracks like “The Curious Butterfly Realises He is Beautiful” and “Forty-Dollar Rug” show the complete tangents that the songs move in. The latter kicks in as a typical hip-hop track but with tongue-in-cheek sounding English-accent rapping, not even a strange departure for these eclectic boys, and then the track shifts into a live-instrumental crazy, jam extravaganza. The songs also range from relaxed and reserved (“Family Romance”, “Ghost In Summer Clothes”) to more forceful and upbeat (“Romo-Goth”).
There is an undeniable fun to be found in The Cold Nose, not least in the overall mass genre/style-straddling but in the actual songs themselves. This is not to tear it down as comic but it’s a record that conveys a sense of the enjoyment taken in recording it and certain parts – like when the vocals suddenly become sung by a big group in “Family Romance”, the samples in “We Have To Respect Each Other” and at the beginning of “The Curious Butterfly Realises He is Beautiful”, or the random shifts into epic/emotional soundtracks in “The Horse You Ride” – are sure to leave a big smile on the face of the listener.
Department of Eagles have worked on the tracks on this album for several years since sharing a room together at college and their collaborative writing skills, depth and range of collage and sense of fun has made it an entertaining listen and one worth investigating. And it’ll be very interesting to see where they develop from here.