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by Raymond Cummings

February 12, 2014

Indie Rock for Lovers

by Raymond Cummings  |  February 12, 2014

There are typically two kinds of indie rock duets: the sincere, and the simulated. Done well, with the proper chemistry, the actual facts of projected courtship are irrelevant -- especially if you've dimmed the lights, trimmed the roses, tipped the Grey Goose and are putting the finishing touches on a St. Valentine's Day mix.

Sure, "Night Nurse" reaches almost B-52's levels of goofiness: the cornball gloop of strings, the cascading effects, the eye-rolling couplets, the overall levitational vibe. But Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips -- a real-life couple -- project a cohabitational calm that sells the song brilliantly. On "From a Motel 6," marrieds Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan opt for an indelible voice meld as a complement to effects-pedal noise pop and a realist's push-pull vision of navigating life with another person. Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice bond over campfire harmonies and a daft "New Yorker Cartoon." Chris Cohen and Nedelle Torrisi of Cryptacize narrate romantic desolation and cattle-prodded pop even as their own love blooms; they're exes now, sadly.

On the more platonic end of things, there's the throwback a cappella of "Ode to St. Valentine," where Calvin Johnson's rumbling baritone and Mirah's sweet, high tones complement one another even as they don't generate any heat. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan's come-hither "Come Walk With Me," meanwhile, is wholly convincing in its gentle longing. But this playlist wouldn't be complete without The Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else But You," which takes the prize for near-inappropriateness, as Adam Green and his former babysitter, Kimya Dawson, trade wince-worthy, puke-inducing intimations over spindly, unplugged guitars.

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