I’ve just got done taking in the exceptional album Equal Under Pressure by Chelan and it left me wondering how this band is not more widely known. The duo of Jen Grady and Justin Hosford make synth-based electro-pop that falls in line with bands like The Chromatics, Glass Candy and College. For the last past couple of years this type of music has been on the rise and Chelan’s music is on par with any of the bands I just mentioned. Equal Under Pressure is the band’s fourth album and displays an experienced band that has a keen sense of taste when it comes to production as well as an intricate knowledge of how to construct a song.
Grady as you may have guessed from the aforementioned bands is on vocals throughout and she contains a voice that is conducive to the music that is played. Her delivery is adaptive depending on the mood of the song but is so easy to enjoy any way you look at it. The album could have been done with an acoustic guitar and her vocals and I still would have enjoyed it. Her vocals are excellent but the programming is just as good. There are plenty of pro techniques here that aren’t subtle. The album is a diverse landscape of tones and juxtaposed sounds that creates an engaging ride from beginning to end.
The album starts with “Pretend We Live Forever.” It starts off atmospheric that combines with a huge sounding drumbeat. Grady’s vocals enter and are immediately enjoyable. Once the chorus hits strings swell and an infectious vocal melody penetrates your ears. I’m not sure if they have a single picked out but this may be it.
“Photograph” has a slower BPM and is certainly more melancholy. The song is heartfelt and spews with emotion. It combines warm pads and piano while Grady’s vocals emerge as the focal center of the song. The third song “Checked In” is a remix by Kid 606. He throws in top-notch production skill tricks and gives the song plenty of ear candy. “Before It All” is arguably the most club-ready track on the album. The dance vibe is created with a steady kick drum and bright synths. I’m a sucker for spliced vocals and it’s done on this track with precision.
The centerpiece of the album is the seven-minute track “Sunrise” which was also remixed by Kid 606. Some of the production tricks reminded me of Lali Puna and Ellen Alien, which is a good thing. Grady delivers some of her most infectious vocal melodies.
Equal Under Pressure is essential listening - it’s that simple. Furthermore 100% of sales will be donated to the together1heart foundation. I’ve said enough. Enjoy this album and spread the word.
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