Damon & Naomi celebrate their 25th year as performers together this year, and nothing displays that celebratory spirit more than False Beats and True Hearts, their first album of new recordings in four years, set for release May 8 on Broken Horse. An album of lush possibility and depth, False Beats and True Hearts fuses the skill of music veterans with the fervor of artists continuing to create at the top of their craft.
The intervening years following their darkly introspective Within These Walls has not been spent dawdling. With the reissue of the first Damon & Naomi record, More Sad Hits, a retrospective of their mid-career highlights (The Sub Pop Years), the chock-full 1001 Nights DVD which compiles documentary moments and live performances, and, perhaps most notably, re-releases of all three seminal Galaxie 500 albums, there's been a lot of looking back. It's therefore appropriate that the first song off FB&TH is "Walking Backwards," an ode to the joy of nostalgia and warmth of reflection. The song is cross stitched by Michio Kurihara's elegant guitar playing - a thick and resonating psych sound that has been a part of Damon & Naomi's music since their collaboration with the Japanese band Ghost (With Ghost from 2000) - and a Death Of A Ladies' Man-style backing chorus of female vox and horns.
Given the band's reputation for contemplative melancholy, Fasle Beats and True Hearts is unexpectedly upbeat and strident. While lyrics portray true introspection with a poetic and thoughtful view towards life, the melodies are ambitious and far-reaching. Naomi's new passion for piano playing circles the album like a starry night, capturing the immediacy found in the finest Plastic Ono Band recordings.
Like their best material, it's the sincerity and necessity of their expression that is the most striking, and with False Beats and True Hearts, Damon & Naomi offer a vital document of what brings listeners to music in the first place - emotion, identification and beauty.