There is something hypnotic about Daniel Rossen’s singing voice. His vocal instrument is not pristine and soaring like his Grizzly Bear co-lead Ed Droste. It is softer and more earnest, yet no less moving.
Rossen’s performances are always scrappy and inspired, like a boxer discounted because of his size. His words are wistful and/or pointed, depending on the song. They leave blanks for the listener to fill in.
On “Sleeping Ute”, the first taste of Grizzly Bear’s upcoming fourth album, Rossen sings about searching for peace as a brilliant guitar lick rolls like a tumbleweed behind him. He can’t find it though, largely because of his own actions.
“I can’t help myself,” he declares, a hint of shame and disgust in his voice. Those four words later morph into a refrain which acts as a crossroads for his psyche. Rossen’s lyrical vagueness is a plus in this instance because the emotion he sings with, albeit restrained, suggests powerful forces at play.
The music takes turns alternating between chaotic guitars and cymbal crashes reflecting the depth of Rossen’s woe and a hushed bridge where Rossen describes a painful departure that is the essence of his ruminations. “I know no other way,” he concludes.
Rossen’s aches, both real and imagined, give “Sleeping Ute” a present beauty that make it much more than the guilty pleasure suggested by the singer’s admission of longing.