Review Summary: Beautiful and at times unpredictable
Pretend is a four-piece math rock band from California. Back in 2009 they released their debut project, “Bones in the Soil, Rust in the Oil.” Since then they kept jamming and have also signed to Top Shelf Records for their most recent release “Tapestry’d Life.” Pretend has developed somewhat of a cult following since their debut. Their style of math rock is very similar to that of American Football and toe. Combined with indie vocals and lyrics as well as elements of post rock, Pretend’s sound is at times a unique one.
Pretend does not depend on just a few indie and math rock influences. Listening to “Tapestry’d Life” you can tell they are pulling influences from a much larger bag. Most of the time, Pretend is unpredictable. They’re not your typical math rock/emo band singing about break ups and getting emotional every chance they get. Pretend can be loud and noisy at times, shifting from the twinkly and subtle guitars to big strums and intense feedback. As for their post rock side, the focus isn’t big, but the elements are there. There are build ups and crashes but they aren’t as in your face as other post rock bands. They always play with spot on execution and keep even focus on the different elements in their music.
It’s hard to pick out the highs and lows from the album because of how consistent it is. It is very easy to get lost in and holds your attention with its beautiful, noodling guitars. The drumming is superb from start to finish. There is barely any let up throughout. But one con is the length. Through the first few listens “Tapestry’d Life” does over extend its stay, but for me this wasn’t a bad thing. The musicianship and chemistry between these band members is very apparent until the bitter end that even when the album is starting to feel too long you don’t really mind.
Every track depends on the melodies the two lead guitars put together with their intertwined noodling. On the opener, “Wrapped in Fantasy” the album kicks off with an odd time signature coming from the vocalist and a stray guitar. After a minute or so, the bass rips through the track showing its presence is just as important as the guitars. The drums soon follow with their quick rhythmic grooves holding the song together. At the 3:25 mark our drummer begins to show off his skills with a quick little solo to prove his talent. After an opener as good as this, you quickly find that you are in for quite a listen.
“Tapestry’d Life” is a great sophomore showing from Pretend. It exceeds their debut in every way reaching out for deeper influences and furthering ways of diversifying their sound. For me, it took a few listens to sink in but once it did the payoff was a marveling sound that you can fully appreciate. Standouts include, “Patternless Tide” “Blessings” “Physical Fight” and “Doors.” With only two songs under the 7 minute mark Pretend puts their talents out on full display in their superb sophomore effort. Definitely a must listen of 2015.