My first ever LP was a hand-me-down copy of Sonny and Cher‘s 1965 hit record Look At Us featuring their timeless classic ‘I’ve Got you Babe’. The song and album was so full of warm and fuzzy feelings that Sonny and Cher became a beacon of light defining for many the ideal happy marriage. In retrospect, we’ve all learned that Sonny and Cher’s marriage did not end in fairytale fashion as they became each other’s greatest antagonist. Adam Green and Binki Shapiro have come together to make a duet record about love with all the aesthetics of an analogue studio from the ’60s, but the pair are not about to pretend that it’s all roses and sunshine. Throwing optics out the window, the lyrics are brutal and honest reaffirming their refreshing thesis that love sucks. It is easy to be fooled by the delicate musical arrangements, the softness of Shapiro’s voice and the baritone complement by Green, but there is an obvious brooding tension in the story lines which makes their debut an engaging listen to say the least.
Adam Green and Binki Shapiro are not married, yet, but maybe they should be. Their self-titled LP is a genuine dialogue between two potential lovers who are really worlds apart. The album begins with ‘Here I Am’, a folky acoustic piece which sees our mythical duo returning to each other after some rough times. “Looking down the line at you/Left a trail I’m hoping you will undo”. As with any rebirth, we are reminded that the good vibes are fleeting. By the third track titled ‘Casanova’, drenched in a warm ’60s aesthetics, Shapiro is asking “Why are you always finding new ways of wasting my time?/ Why are you always hiding?/Am I not supposed to look you in the eye?”. Her partner in ‘Pity Love’ declares ” My Heart is everywhere splitting out like thunder/Everybody, everybody cheating on each other”. Yep, theirs is a different kind of love, as the couple explore ideas from disappointment under the covers in ‘Pleasantries’ to just generally questioning the whole damn experience in ‘What’s the Reward’. The lyrics are witty, intelligent, humorous, depressing and brutally straightforward. The music is not so bad either.
Every track features simple arrangements that lend a warm analogue feel. Shapiro’s voice echoes softly, reaching all the notes with delicate precision. The melodies are drenched in the nostalgia of the classics and feel as if you have heard them before, many of the songs instantly recognisable and immediately memorable. ‘Don’t Ask For More’ proves to be one of the many highlights featuring a Feist-like simplicity and a gorgeous build up of various organic elements that complement Shapiro’s vocals. Musically, the subtle changes from song to song provide interesting moments throughout the album. ‘Reward’ ends with an ultra-sticky surf guitar riff and accompanying rhythm while ‘I Never Found Out’ bears more of an indie-pop feel.
Both Adam Green and Binki Shapiro have been involved with other bands (Moldy Peaches and Little Joy respectively), but their debut self-titled duet album is their finest hour. Wrapped in ’60s nostalgia and emphasising the complexities of emotions, the record really has a little of everything, except true love.