OK, I'm over the whole husband-and-wife-duo-as-a-band thing. This year has seen a bunch of bad releases from domesticates like Tennis, Handsome Furs, Mates of State and Thurlow, just to name a few. And lest I be accused of discrimination, Uh Huh Her's latest effort proves that lesbian couples can suck musically as much as straight ones.
So, along comes Psychic Dancehall, a sort-of side project of local boy Charles Rowell (Crocodiles, The Vultures) and his Brit bride, Hollie Cook (The Slits, not to mention the daughter of The Sex Pistols' Paul Cook). Recorded primarily in a San Diego apartment during a rainy winter, Dreamers has roots in both Phil Spector's “wall of sound” and late-'70s no-wave, but repeated listens reveal an array of influences. Fans of recent acts like John Maus and Dirty Beaches will dig songs like “Long Lost Lover” and “Out of the Vale, Into the Void,” and there's also Spacemen 3-type ballads like “A Love that Kills” and a synthed-out cover of The Crystals' domestic-abuse anthem, “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss).”
The problem is that when you're a couple, especially a new one, you might be inclined to pick your battles so as to not upset your mate. It's not unreasonable to think that a harmless comment on an awkward chord progression could result in someone sleeping on the couch. Where Richard and Linda Thompson's I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight captures the sound of tentatively settling down and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is a classic breakup album, Dreamers reflects two young artists who don't want to come down from the love buzz. It's the lo-fi equivalent of PDA and pet names, and, just as in real life, it's cute at first but gets really annoying after a while.