Cari Rae and Jordy Asher’s music outfit, Blonds, gets compared to groups like Tennis and Cults. Why? Because they are a boy and a girl making pop music. These are not bad comparisons by any means, but Rae and Asher’s project is not a rip-off of the pioneers of cutesy indie pop. In fact, it’s not cutesy indie pop at all.
Music writers stamped the twosome with similarities after the Floridians self-released their debut EP, Dark Roots, last November. The album comprised six gauzy, seductive tracks, including a jazzy cover of Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host.” But the singer and multi-instrumentalist strived to set themselves apart from others, rather than be tucked away behind male/female duos that came before them. As a result, Rae and Asher shifted their sound completely for the EP’s follow-up, and with the help of acclaimed producer, Nicolas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, Spoon), Blonds found its real groove while recording its debut full-length, The Bad Ones. With such a distinguished producer at the helm, the two-piece was able to effectively convey its vision. Rae claims that her largest inspirations are love, sadness, opposition, longing, and empowerment, and on this record she successfully incorporates these sediments through the sounds of minimalistic blues, electronic, doo-wop, femme fatale, and pop without missing a beat.
The album begins with “Heartstrings,” a short tune that pulls from blues and doo-wop. The song begins with a dejected acoustic guitar riff, and Rae’s vocals come in with, “I’m so blue, if ever I’m not with you/My heart is dangling by its strings/These sheets are cold and my body is aching because I’m still waking up without you.” As she continues to sing, her voice increases its intensity until she is belting out her woeful lyrics. Meanwhile, Asher’s background vocals support her in a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs.”
From there, the record seamlessly dances between the twangy, independent “Run,” sexy, James Bond-esque “Mr. E,” and the dreamy, tropical-tinged “Falling,” before coming to a screeching halt with “Locomotion,” a track that begins with droning keyboards and ends with distorted electric guitar and both Rae and Asher yelling.
This re-imagined form of older genres is what makes Blonds stand out from the rest. Yes, the duo can write sugary sweet indie pop, which is proved by the album’s reverbed and twinkling single, “Time,” but the fact that Rae and Asher bend the mold, and do it successfully, is what makes them not only interesting, but a serious contender as a buzz band in 2013.
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