Daniel Rossen – “Saint Nothing”

By: Jack Stein

1/4 Grizzly Bear = 1/4 the pensiveness
* * *

New Grizzly Bear?! Well, not quite. However, this solo jam from the influential Brooklyn crew’s Daniel Rossen stands as a promising sign of things to come. Culled from Rossen’s forthcoming Silent Hour/Golden mile EP (due 3/19 on Warp Records), “Saint Nothing” both reflects the ghosts of his Grizzly Bear songwriting past while hinting at an equally rewarding future.

Sure enough, the trademarks of all great Rossen-penned Grizzly Bear tracks (think “I Live With You” from the superb Veckatimest) are present and accounted for. Lilting horns, rising and falling in sync with Rossen’s breathy vocals like a restless tide? Check. Somberly pounded piano keys, sounding as if they are emanating from the creepy attic that Yellow House seemed like it was birthed in? Check. Obscure, ambiguous and artful lyrics vaguely regarding the dissolution of a relationship, leaving the song’s true meaning to the listener’s discretion? Check, check, check.

However, to call this “Grizzly Lite” would be selling Rossen short. While 2009’s Veckatimest was undoubtedly brilliant, it sounded restricted and metronomic at times, with no room for the incredible songwriting to breathe amidst the meticulously structured arrangements. Here, the beauty of the track lies in how organic it feels, with Rossen playing loosely in odd time signature (“Pyramid Song”, anyone?), the pained words spilling from him spontaneously, and that Greek chorus of horns rising to greet him at the song’s most dour moments. According to gorillavsbear, Rossen recorded this EP in order to “get his legs back” after GB’s exhausting tours sapped him (and presumably his bandmates) of all songwriting strength. If his main band’s forthcoming record gleans any of the limber and free-flowing feel that this little gem contains, then we may be in for another modern classic. Give it a listen.

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