The Lonely Forest’s Spine-Tingling Sing-Along

Proof that they are in fact capable of achieving pop perfection.

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 on its merits alone. Then again, that's how the 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), the Lonely Forest released Nuclear Winter, a full-length the band wrote as a three-piece right after guitarist Tony Ruland left. "[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 continues, "and I wanted to get a little bit louder and more experimental."The band's album is meant to strike a balance between the mainstream, sugary pop of their youthful beginnings and Nuclear Winter's dark experimentalism. But even if Electric! takes more risks, the record—particularly pop masterpiece "We Sing in Time"—is still quite accessible to the average listener. Though Van Deusen recorded all the guitar parts himself, layering the tracks to create a multi-guitar sound, Ruland serendipitously returned to Anacortes and rejoined the band, which will help fill things out live. And at the band's CD release show on Friday, they'll also have additional vocal harmonies by members of the Anacortes High School choir.It's one of the many benefits of working in Anacortes' tight-knit artistic community, home to a disproportionate number of talented musicians (Karl Blau, for one) who prove that there are still 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."

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