After Dean Wareham left the epochal dream-pop group Galaxie 500 in 1991 to form Luna, the remainder of the band—husband-and-wife rhythm section Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang—almost immediately released its beautiful debut, More Sad Hits. Since then, Damon & Naomi has rarely disappointed. But the duo has also rarely dazzled, preferring instead to keep its mystery to a whispery minimum. Damon & Naomi’s new full-length, False Beats And True Hearts, maintains the steady momentum; the mood stays wistful, and the pace is ever glacial. But the album shifts sideways a bit, specifically into the ’70s folk-rock of Sandy Denny and Richard and Linda Thompson. Granted, Yang’s voice always bore a trace of that almost-occult melancholy. But sporadic peals of Jimmy Page-like guitar, sumptuous acoustic strumming, and curlicues of analog synth heighten the otherworldliness, especially on dreamscape lullabies like “Walking Backwards” and “What She Brings.” As usual, Krukowski pitches in his serviceable croon, most effectively on the aptly aqueous “Ophelia.” False Beats is by no means a reinvention of Damon & Naomi’s signature, sigh-worthy sound, but it does add a lilting arc to its unassuming grace.
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