Usually, when a male and a female singer decide to collaborate, they choose a partner who's vastly different from themselves. Think Lee Hazlewood's deep baritone sweetened by Nancy Sinatra's arid croon, Isobel Campbell's breathy chirp grounded by Mark Lanegan's deep growl, or M. Ward's dusty murmur buoyed by Zooey Deschanel's bright tones. But in Amor de Días, Lupe Núñez-Fernández and Alasdair MacLean picked markedly similar collaborators. With London's bucolic pop outfit the Clientele, MacLean never raises his voice above a whisper, content to emit his vocals like so much exhaled breath. In bicontinental indie-pop act Pipas, Núñez-Fernández sings in a similarly hushed voice, although she occasionally speaks her lyrics in a twee nursery-rhyme-ish cadence. Even though the duo's new Merge Records disc, Street of the Love of Days, was recorded over three years, it feels less like the result of an indie-pop supergroup and more like an organically grown ensemble. Save for the sweet lullaby "Dream (Dead Hands)," they take turns singing rather than harmonizing, giving the disc a coherence that many such collaborations lack. Helped by such visiting friends as Damon & Naomi and the Ladybug Transistor's Gary Olsen, the twosome pair their laconic vocals with bossa nova guitars, punctuating brass, sprightly piano, and minimalist beats. The disc recalls the delicate melancholy of Brazil's Gal Costa, an admitted influence, shot through with a very British sense of decorum and ennui. Pretty, pretty good.
Amor de Días and Colossal Yes open for Damon & Naomi.
Fri., June 3, 9:30 p.m., 2011