Christy & Emily Gueen’s Head

[The Social Registry; 2007]

Styles: experimental, indie folk, dream pop
Others: Joanna Newsom, CocoRosie, Edith Frost

Stripping songs down to the barest essentials, Christy & Emily might best be classified as indie folk deconstructionists. While there's a restless energy permeating the songs on Gueen's Head, these compositions are offered with the slightest of arrangements. The tracks themselves, though rather simple in most respects, have little to offer in terms of traditional song structure. While this may sound like the recipe for an alienating listening experience, this is surprisingly not the case.

It may not have the warm, inviting hug that many may expect from their indie folk, but Gueen's Head has many subtle charms that all but the most rash listener will enjoy after the very first spin. The minimalism is not brought on by any lack of know-how with their instruments or voices; rather, the sparseness seems to be employed to create delicate but rich atmospheres in which their compositions can most potently unfold. The basic ingredients of vocals, electric guitar, and a Fender Rhodes are cautiously meted out to give each track just the right balance.

Though Christy & Emily certainly work within the current indie folk scene, another band that warrants mention as a touchstone is The Velvet Underground. Christy Edwards’ guitar sound is almost like a reincarnation of Lou Reed’s circa 1965, especially on the almost jangle-pop number “Thunder & Lightning.” What's more, some of these untraditional songs actually have sections that are quite catchy. The more I listen, the more I find myself inadvertently singing along with “Ocean” and “Signs.” However, the pop whore in me wins out in a big way, making the breezy “Island Song” easily my favorite moment on the album. Admittedly, it’s where the restraint is most absent that the album becomes boisterous, despite its resolutely laid-back demeanor. Such clever perceptual trickery usually only comes with experience, but that's why Gueen's Head is such a stealthy stunner of a debut that should gain this young duo a lot of fans.

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