On Record – Daniel Rossen: You Belong There (Warp Records)

daniel-rossen

written by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

To say You Belong There is an eagerly awaited album would be an understatement. Daniel Rossen, a key member of both Grizzly Bear and Department Of Eagles, made a strong impression with his Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP in 2012, and finally follows up that release with a fully-fledged long player for Warp.

What’s the music like?

Compelling. Perhaps inevitably Rossen brings elements of the two bands’ music to his writing, but there is plenty of room for exploration of his own. The songs on You Belong There live and breathe a heady air, with twists and turns in the music and narrative that keep the listener hooked.

‘The truth is always brighter than you say’, runs the repeated hook through Shadow In The Frame, a song where Rossen’s storytelling has the vivid references of a band like Fleet Foxes or Midlake. With carefully studied guitar work and sumptuous orchestration – never overdone – the song is a beauty, its coda especially moving.

On the title track percussion flits back and forth, the music panning out as the harmonies intensify, while Celia is a remarkable song, with a multi-layered choir of Rossens confessing that “I’m still staggering as you once did”. I’ll Wait For Your Visit goes further still, the singer in a lower range with long phrases above excitable piano and guitar.

Sometimes Rossen appears to be in the same room. Unpeopled Space begins with intimate phrases picked on the guitar before striding forward with a strong sense of purpose. Tangle, meanwhile, is out in the white water, a torrent of piano notes flowing around his vessel. The music is virtuosic but wholly relatable, especially at the song’s apex. However the best song – arguably – is Keeper And Kin, another gripping story told over descriptive guitars and percussion. After this, the final two songs form an effective coda.

Does it all work?

Yes. The blend of carefully studied guitar work and instinctive melodies is a strong one, each song a windswept beauty – and the virtuosity of Rossen should be commended, for over lockdown he learned a number of new instruments to add even more colours to his music. The songs blossom in his hands.

Is it recommended?

Without question. Fans of Grizzly Bear will find a great deal to enjoy here, as Rossen gives us the debut his initial promise suggested he would achieve.

Stream

Buy

To hear clips from You Belong There, and for purchase options, visit the Warp Records website

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