pretendTapestry’d Life is the brand new album from post-rock American quartet Pretend, released on October 9th. The group have been playing and writing together since 2004, and the time taken to mould their experimental sound and approach to music certainly shows, creating one of the most exciting albums I’ve listened to this year.

A musical constant throughout the album is one of disorientation in terms of meter, and reminds me of a similar approach taken by experimental pop/rock group Battles (listen to ‘Leyendecker’ and ‘Snare Hanger’ as examples of this). All songs on Tapestry’d Life demonstrate a complex use of time signature, at times seemingly lacking it completely. The individual parts are almost superimposed over each other, sometimes lacking any obvious connection to each other or even a beat. A delicate, mature approach to songwriting is evident here throughout as, although complex and experimental, they are by no means difficult to listen to. There is always a driving force, a focal aspect to latch onto, often of vocals or drums. These sections are then swiftly contrasted with a much more conventional, grounded feel. Alternating between these sections in such a way creates moments of brilliance within each song, as at times the ear craves rhythmical and metronomic sensibility. This need is then satisfied in an explosion of energetic drums and guitar, creating a real drive and movement and to the texture and rhythm throughout the album. You never quite know where any section is going or what’s about to happen next. Listening for the first time is a joy.

The album kicks off with what, for me, is the best track on the album. ‘Wrapped in Fantasy’ is a 7-minute collection of melancholic vocal work, vibrant drums and perpetual, rolling guitar parts. The track is in constant motion and ebbs and flows throughout from moments of intense speed and complexity to much more indolent moments, and back again, creating an album-like musical journey in one song. The long, interspersed instrumental sections are packed with virtuosity and constant evolution.

One caveat with music of this experimental ilk is that any drum player needs to play absolutely perfectly to maintain the little sensibility there is, and to control the rhythmic, tempo and meter changes heard throughout. The drumming on this album is utterly flawless, from the slow, lazy sections to the solos and everything in between. The mixing here is also brilliantly done as, whilst the guitars are panned wide left and right, the drums occupy the entire stereo field for the majority of the album, maximising their impact and showcasing the exemplary drum work. The widening of the drum part to such a level as experienced here adds such dynamism and movement when listening (listen to the album through headphones to really appreciate this).

This album is an exciting, dynamic and joyous thing to listen to. Never boring or mundane by any stretch, the songwriting is captivating and provides something new with every listen. A truly exciting prospect, Pretend have begun their careers with a brilliant record, and one you should try to listen to.

Release Date 09/10/2015 (Topshelf Records)

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Will Lawton

I am a third year music student at the University of Leeds and am passionate about experiencing music. In my view, being able to hear, see and appreciate the human involvement in playing an instrument or singing is the most important thing.