Daphne & Celeste

Daphne & Celeste Save the World

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Daphne & Celeste are best remembered for being viciously bottled on-stage at festivals during their short heyday in the early 2000s. After two teen pop singles ("Ooh Stick You!" and "U.G.L.Y.") hit the charts in the U.K. and their album sank with nary a trace, the American duo stepped away from the turned-off spotlight and went about their daily lives. Fast-forward to 2011 and they get a tweet from electronic producer Max Tundra (aka Ben Jacobs), who wondered if they wanted to work together on a song. There hadn't been any new Max Tundra music for a while and the producer was looking to get back into the game, only in a poppier direction. The three of them collaborated on a single that came out in 2015, the brilliant slice of left-field pop "You & I Alone," then in 2018 they released a similarly great album, Daphne & Celeste Save the World. Jacobs' savvy way with electronics and his offbeat melodic sense, lo-fi beats, and witty, pop culture-referencing lyrics are a perfect match for the duo's voices, which have become richer and more powerful over their time away. The record kicks off with a trio of songs that are like a clinic for how to make oddball pop: "Save the World" is a brief, almost ragtime ditty that Lawrence probably wishes he had thought of for the latest Go-Kart Mozart album; "Sunny Day" is bright and bouncy, wrapping heartbreak in blipping synths and stuttering snares; and "BB" is a witty and fun chiptune takedown of basic buskers everywhere. The rest of the record keeps the party going strong. The two singers swerve in note-perfect style from sassy to sad, and the songs range from rollicking Go Team!-esque jams ("A.L.T.O.") to melancholy synth pop ("16 Stars"), silly piano ballads ("Song to a Succulent"), and avant-garde electronic pop ("Whatever Happened to Yazz?"), while doling out some furious techno ("Alarms") and even a little bit of '90s teen pop revival, only way weirder ("Taking Notes"). All this and "You & I Alone" too. Hooking up with D&C proved a genius move by Jacobs, and the same is true for D&C. It's a surprising and decidedly odd combination that works amazingly well, like olive oil and ice cream. Daphne & Celeste may not save the world, but a listen to this album is sure to make the world a better place for about 45 minutes or so, and sometimes that's enough.

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