Should • The Great Pretend
[CD March 25, 2014]

The Great Pretend is Should's fourth album and the first since 2011's Like a Fire Without Sound — a gentle but idiosyncratic collection of dream pop that marked the Baltimore band's return from a 13-year hiatus. That same year, Captured Tracks reissued Should's 1995 debut A Folding Sieve in an expanded form as the inaugural release of the label's Shoegaze Archive Series, which has since included reissues by Medicine and For Against.

Throughout its 11 songs, The Great Pretend demonstrates that Should has flourished creatively in the interim. While still informed by their shoegaze and dream pop roots, the album twists and turns, subverting expectations.

The mono-chord, krautrock groove of the opener "Don't Send Me your Regrets" gives way to elegant, lush pop of "Loveless Devotion" - only to morph abruptly into an endless refrain atop heavy toms and buzzing guitars. The strident guitar and emphatic drums of "Mistakes are Mine" turns on a dime to an orchestrated, drumless bridge.

But the album is still stamped with Should's signatures: Marc Ostermeier and Tanya Maus' harmonies on "In Monotone" and "A Lonely Place" and the churning shoegaze wash of "Dalliance," which harkens back to the band's debut and will no doubt be relished by longtime fans.

The starkest contrasting hues of Should's expanded songwriting palette lie between the unabashed Factory post-punk tones of "Amends" and "Don't Get To Know Me," a 3/4-time piano vamp embellished with increasing layers of orchestration as the album closes.

video for "Down a Notch"

video for "Dalliance"


There's depth here, real songwriting beneath the pedals and effects. I love this record. - [sic] Magazine

I am pretty sure this is one of the best albums I've heard this winter. That is was released on the cusp of spring is no matter. - Feed Me With Your Kiss

It latches onto your cerebrum and doesn't let go. - The DaDaDa

I love it when bands get better with age. - This Wreckage
the great pretend

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