Like another famous indie-rock couple act, Quasi, the Mates favor a thick sound (fortified with organ overdubs and odd samples) that disguises just how few of them there are. Though they lack Quasi's lyrical pessimism, the very texture of their music -- the intersecting stream-of-consciousness lyrics and lurching carny melodies -- makes for a more immediate madness. Yet it's also proof of their love; they wouldn't get so tied up in knots if they didn't really care. Whereas Elliott Smith and countless other bedroom songwriters toil away penning odes to long-departed girlfriends, Gardner and Hammell master the far more touching, difficult and ambiguous task of writing pop songs about love in the present tense.
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