When the skies turn orange, fires engulf unimaginable swaths of land, and the president glibly admits to lying about the dangers of a global pandemic, sometimes you just need a song that can lull you to sleep — an offering that will wrap you in a gauzy state of bliss.
I’m not sure when Worthitpurchase — the synth pop pairing of musicians Omar Akrouche and Nicole Rowe, who met in San Francisco — wrote their new single, “Prospect Heights,” but I can guarantee they didn’t anticipate it would be arriving during a time that can only be described as the end of days.
That said, this lilting, breezy single — the second from the band’s upcoming album, Dizzy Age — hits like a tablet (or two) of Valium in these manic times, a comforting salve to temporarily ease the dystopia of 2020.
Borrowing from the lo-fi haziness of the Microphones, without conjuring so many ominous undertones, “Prospect Heights” is a charming piece of lo-fi pop, balancing the gentle strumming of acoustic guitars with the bathing embrace of warm synths.
Akrouche has a vulnerable, frail warble that is non-threatening, and his delicate delivery eases us into the song, setting the stage for an ostensible duet of Millennial love. But when Rowe’s vocals are introduced in the second verse, the track takes on another level of emotional weight. Recalling Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos, Rowe adds a biting clarity, delivering her lines from an icy place of detachment, signifying the cracks in this affair. In this sense, the tune is reminiscent of other smart, double-edged pop duets — like The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” or The Postal Service’s “Nothing Better.”
When Rowe sings the couplet, “You run around around/Looking for something that can’t be found,” we quickly realize that this lighthearted lark is really about something promising coming to an end. That sentiment is cemented by the outgoing coda of “I’m not sure what I’m here for/I’m just somebody for you to feel for,” a mantra sung on repeat by both vocalists as the song fades out.
Although “Prospect Heights” is about the fraying remnants of a relationship, it is a fucking joy to hear — a testament to the duo’s seamless blend of the analog and digital worlds, their patient pacing, and the tune’s gorgeous harmonies. The sonic atmosphere is as soft as a downy pillow, and Akrouche and Rowe’s disparate voices play beautifully off each other, recalling Yo La Tengo and Belle and Sebastian. The word bedroom pop gets thrown around a lot, but this song is truly something you wanna cuddle up with before naptime.