If the Lonely Forest accomplishes nothing else with sophomore release We Sing The Body Electric!, vocalist and songwriter John Van Deusen hopes that when people hear it, they'll stop referring to the Lonely Forest's age and judge the music by its merits alone. Then again, that's how the Lonely Forest, a four-piece from Anacortes, first made itself known to Seattle by winning the 2006 EMP Sound Off! competition for young bands. After recording an EP with Jack Endino (the reward for winning Sound Off!), the Lonely Forest released Nuclear Winter, a full-length the band wrote as a three-piece right after guitarist Tony Ruland left Anacortesand the bandto go to school. "[Nuclear Winter] was just keyboards, bass and drums," Van Deusen says. "It was a rock opera about the end of the world, and honestly it was really depressing. Most people couldn't stomach it." Nuclear Winter, Van Deusen explains, was an experiment, which is why We Sing The Body Electric! feels more like the band's first release to him. We were very, very poppy when we won Sound Off!, Van Deusen explains, and I wanted to get a little bit louder and a little more experimental.
We Sing The Body Electric! is meant to strike a balance between the mainstream, sugary pop of the band's youthful beginnings and the dark experimentalism of Nuclear Winter. On We Sing The Body Electric!, the keys play a supporting role, while layered guitars and vocal harmonies drive the album's sound. But even if We Sing The Body Electric! takes more risks, the recordparticularly pop masterpiece We Sing In Timeis still quite accessible to the average listener. "For this album, I wanted to lighten things up a bit," Van Deusen says. Though Van Deusen recorded all the guitar parts himself, layering the tracks to create a multi-guitar sound, Tony Ruland serendipitously returned to Anacortes and rejoined the band, which will help fill things out live. And at the bands CD release show, theyll also have help filling out the vocal harmonieswhich were made possible on the album by a handful of guest artistsfrom the Anacortes High School choir. Its one of the many benefits of working in Anacortes tight-knit artistic community, which is home to a disproportionate number of talented musicians (Karl Blau, for one) who prove that there are still new, exciting things to be done with pop music. I think it was good for me to grow up in a scene like I did here, because it shows you that you need balance, Van Deusen says. You can't be all sparkle and pop.
Fri., April 24, 7:30 p.m., 2009