From Johnny Cash and June Carter to Mates of State, pop music would be a duller place without the romantic tug-of-war between genders. Blasting the dull, grey layer from the boy/girl concept is Big Deal, comprised of Joshua Tree, CA’s Kacey Underwood and London’s Alice Costelloe. The friends-one-might-mistake-for-lovers make heartache and young lust universal experiences.
The cornerstone of Big Deal’s sound is the uber-minimalist one-two punch of an alt-leaning electric guitar and a lonesome acoustic strum. Though composed of diametrically opposing musical notions, the overall aesthetic is as smitten and adorable as it is dark and sullen. Building on the genre’s tried-and-true harmonizing, Big Deal fuses their voices into one gender-less beast that feels the relationship woes of each gender equally. There is no separation based on each sex’s abilities to cope and express, just heaps of multi-faceted forlorn.
“Chair” sees the acoustic guitar become a sonic Kewpie doll, sweetly addressing rejection, while the electric guitar haunts the background like a maniacal ex. The lyrical content, specifically the line, “You don’t trust me to sit on your bed, put me on the chair in the corner instead,” is as succinct as any album track, simultaneously understanding their lover’s demands and slyly trying to creep closer. “Talk” magnifies that sound, offering a grungier electric part while the acoustic part strikes a repetitive nerve. Once more, simple lyrics (“All I want to do is talk, but seeing you fucks me up”) have mesmerizing levels of emotional impact. Any spark of happiness, as with “Cool Like Kurt”, sounds nihilistic and deliciously underwhelming, with the only wish found in “Don’t take me home, take me to your bed, I wanna be older.” As if the rest of life would ever make all this better.
Pop music is all about romance, for better or for worse. Underwood and Costelloe have explored their broken hearts in a way that strikes at the core of all of us: love absolutely kills, but there’s beauty even in expressing it.
Essential Tracks: “Chair”, “Talk”