Independent release, 2011
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/11/2012
Genetically, Chelan (Jennifer Grady and Justin Hosford) is meant to be a band that is not supposed to be instantly captivating or exciting in any way. And although this duo isn’t one that seeks gratification in their ultra timidness, they do accept its shyness as an asset and incorporates this virtue in their music in the most sincere possible way. Towers is so soothing and congenial that it can almost be played as elevator music without being one, and it will fill the air with sweet melody without taking total control over the airspace: it is a perfect soundtrack for a dinner party assemblage of urban hipsters.
Towers doesn’t sound too atypical from what should be expected from a folktronica record. The requisites are ever-present in this collection of songs: the vulnerable vocals, the evocative music with just the right mix of guitars and synth, a homegrown sound, and a quest to make a tight little package of pop music. The music is fragile in a literal sense. Grady’s heartfelt nectareous vocals have a childlike innocence that can get a little beseeching, and especially with the gently-played music, it can get too adorable for itself.
Chelan isn’t all that extraordinary from the hundreds of indie folk bands that are out there enjoying the popularity of this genre. But this is not to say that Towers is not a decent record. The prettiness of the music is nothing eye-popping but is surely pleasant with nuggets of radiance emerging from behind the veil of timorousness every now and then.
The album has an enjoyable mix of folk and synthpop, of which, the fully synth-based cuts – “Intro,” “Towers,” “Checked In,” and “Sunrise” – are quite remarkable, and make for the moments on the album where the band truly comes alive from their usually apprehensive self. Inspite of the careful pace, songs like “Carry You” and “Flashing Lights” have a sing-along anthemic feel, which would surely have been milked and transformed into grandiose pop hits if they happened to be, played by, say Coldplay.
But Chelan, in all their cautiousness and coyness, would never do such a thing to their music.