Release Date: May 17, 2011
Record label: 20/20/20
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
After taking a few years away from the studio, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang return with their seventh studio album, False Beats and True Hearts, and show absolutely no signs of age, wear and tear, or deterioration. Once again working with Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara, the duo weaves together elements of folk, psych, dream pop, and indie rock into an enchanting sound that is both fresh and comforting. Very few artists are able to keep doing roughly the same thing for more than a few years without running out of inspiration, but Damon & Naomi seem like they could keep making albums like this forever without wearing out their welcome.
Modern progenitors of the sort of whispery psych-folk that makes collectors get the knee-quivers, Damon & Naomi are now proudly looking directly down the barrel of a 25-year career. False Beats and True Hearts is a slo-mo crawl through ghostly harmonies, assured and glacial pacing, and the smoking hot psych guitar of Ghost’s Michio Kurihara. This combo turns “What She Brings” and “Helsinki” into crumbling epics of distorted literary dreams.
After Galaxie 500, guitarist Dean Wareham led Luna towards increasingly lower volume, channeling the Velvet Underground’s tension into lounge-tinged and club-inflected indie-rock. Similarly, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang have taken, the past 20 years, a direction into pastoral, nostalgic, literate tunes. On this, their seventh record together, they carry the softer sound of Galaxie 500’s heirs that has dominated their interpretations.
Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang are still most often celebrated as the rhythm section of Galaxie 500, two decades after that beloved group's demise. Perhaps then it is important to note that False Beats and True Hearts is the fourth studio album the duo has recorded in collaboration with guitarist Michio Kurihara, of the psych-folk Japanese powerhouse Ghost. This means that Damon & Naomi have now officially created more music with Kurihara than they ever did with Dean Wareham in Galaxie 500, and over a considerably longer stretch of time.
DAMON & NAOMI play the Horseshoe on May 25. See listing. Rating: NNN Since the turn of the century, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have found their groove, releasing well-received records every few years. Their eighth doesn't disappoint, nor does it make any departures from the gentle, emotional and dreamlike work they've made since their 1992 debut, More Sad Hits.
Although some still may mourn the short life and abrupt passing of Galaxie 500 – with last year’s back catalogue reissues no doubt exacerbating such feelings – it’s arguable that the split was ultimately creatively beneficial to the threesome in their subsequent creative roles. Hence Dean Wareham was able to take his distinctive tones, gifted guitar-playing and adaptable songwriting from the divorce to form Luna and build a subsequent art-pop duo with Britta Phillips, whilst Damon Krukowksi and Naomi Yang retained the band’s predilection for higher-register vocals, ethereal atmospherics and less traditional musicality for redeployment and expansion as a conjoined two-headed enterprise. Certainly though, Damon & Naomi’s post-Galaxie endeavours have been less openly assessed and recognised than Wareham’s, even though a rich seven album run has already marked the married couple out as commendably uncorrupted and stoically independent.