“Pretend We Live Forever” – Chelan

We’ve got the snap-to-attention drumming on the one hand, and echoey industrial background washes on the other: martial clarity meets windswept moodiness. What’s not to like? And check out the sneaky way that swells of actual stringed instruments press their way into a sonic landscape that feels at once intimate and expansive. Often the acoustic and electronic are mixed in a song in blatant juxtaposition; here the analog and digital mingle with unnerving ease.

And then there’s the matter of how this thing, well…swings. Underneath the rat-a-tat snare is a deeper, swaying, gut-level beat, and this, I think, is what really nails “Pretend We Live Forever” together. (If you’ve got any desk-dancing inclinations, this song all but requires some kind of awkward-looking but satisfying upper-body gesticulations.) Another somewhat hidden strength here is singer Jennifer Grady’s voice, which has a lovely, limpid tone and is allowed to hit our ears with gratifying directness, even as a variety of layered effects swirl around her. But she’s also oddly easy to miss since so many songs that aim for the kind of ambiance we’ve got going here seem not too often interested in presenting a clear and unadulterated voice. Which kind of trains our ears not to hear. Which is another matter for another day.

Chelan is the duo of Jen Grady and Justin Hosford. She teaches music; he is a TV and film composer with a studio in the Mojave Desert, where they converge to write and record whenever they can. “Pretend We Live Forever” is a track from their forthcoming album Equal Under Pressure, to be released later this month. MP3 via Magnet Magazine.