Arthur & Yu In Camera

[Hardly Art; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: psychedelic folk
Others: Nancy Sinatra, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Serge Gainsbourg, Devendra Banhart

I wish I could stick Arthur & Yu in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and send them back to those fateful trips to the record store my parents were making, when they unwittingly decided that Cat Stevens and James Taylor would become my first musical memories. The Seattle-based duo is the flagship act on Sub Pop’s little sister label Hardly Art, and members Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott have a warm and invitingly throwback sound that begs to be played over the buzz of an 8mm projector. Olsen’s Richard Ashcroft-y warble can be a little unstable at times, but it’s nicely offset by Westcott’s comforting coo and buried deep in lush guitar melodies and fuzzy lo-fi production. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Arthur and Yu’s retro aesthetic is that it doesn’t feel glib or forced. Slow-burning odes to young love (“Lion’s Mouth”) and dreamy optimism (“Absurd Heroes Manifesto”), among others, largely eschew schmaltziness for endearing sentimentality. It’s the kind of music any fledgling music lover deserves to remember.

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