Haunted Hearts

Initiation

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    7
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Haunted Hearts is the musical pairing of real-life married couple Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls and Brandon of Crocodiles, and their first album together, 2014's Initiation, is an impressive blend of their respective bands' sounds. Dee Dee brings gothic mystery and her enchanting vocals; Brandon brings layers of psychedelic guitars and some sonic murkiness. They both bring the ability to write songs that hook the listener with snaky melodies and minor-key moodiness. Mixing it all together results in a sound that's the equal of anything they've done separately, and maybe a little more interesting than anything they've done, too. While they aren't really doing anything that different, with lots of songs that reference Spacemen 3 (the shuffling "Up Is Up [But So Is Down]"), the Jesus and Mary Chain ("Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good"), late-period Siouxsie ("Love Incognito"), and the tough, dangerously sexy feeling they both exude, the combination works really well. Both their regular bands have an insularity that can be a little smothering; the collaboration here is warm and inviting and the record feels like a warm, sticky embrace. It's also a very pleasing sonic experience. Their voices sound great when they sing together, his slightly awkward sneer playing off her sultry knowingness. The mix of layered, fuzzed-out guitars and simple lead lines sounds perfectly realized. There's a smudgy, hazy feel to the arrangements that provides an extra air of forbidden danger, too. Best of all, they wrote some very catchy songs to go along with the sound. "Johnny Jupiter" is a quiet psychedelic pop track with a wonderfully smeared chorus, "Strange Intentions" sounds like the scuzziest take on California beach pop ever attempted, and "Bring Me Down" ends the album on an echoing, dreamlike wave of restrained gloom that either of the lads in Spacemen 3 would have been happy to ride. Initiation is a short introduction to the group; at only eight songs it definitely leaves the listener wanting more. Those eight songs are noisy psychedelic pop at its best, however, on par with anything else treading a similar path. Hopefully it wasn't just a diversion for the couple, and they keep making records this strong in the future.

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