Their dubbing themselves "The Dreadful Yawns" is a bit of an overstatement, but compared to this Cleveland sextet, Belle & Sebastian sound like the Ramones.
Pretend is six cuts of ambient Americana: spacey indie pop in one extreme, lullabies at the other, and snail-crawl psychedelia everywhere in between. "End of Summer" kicks off the affair, moving along on the power of delicate fingerpicking, as shoegazing frontman Ben Gmetro delivers a vivid narrative: "Picking sickly dandelions/Bored of watching fireflies/Bored of sitting in the yard/Prisoner of doubt and God." The rest of the disc is just as enveloping, with softly textured guitars wrapping around gently twinkling xylophones, subliminal strings, and lyrics echoing so slowly that entire lines dissipate before they conclude. Keyboards whistle through the disc-closer "You're Pure," and it's almost enough to wake you up after "To Self," in which Gmetro intones, "Don't fall asleep at the wheel." Good luck, if this is in the stereo.
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