In the movie 500 Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, who works at a greeting card company, thinks of the perfect witticism for their anniversary line: “I love us.” Even though he broke up with the girl who inspired him, that phrase continued to define successful fictional couples the same way it does Florida duo Blonds. Their Dark Roots EP epitomizes great music by couples.
In the span of five tracks, vocalist Cari Rae Woodfield and instrumentalist Jordy Asher’s debut careens from cute to sexy to self-celebratory, aspiring to bars set high by lovers like Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. With Asher’s musical experience (one former band was called Blond Fuzz—notice a theme?) and Woodfield’s siren songs, they will soon become a new barometer for music-making couples.
On the sweetly disjointed “Sunshine Hate”, Asher draws from John Prine and Iris DeMent’s cantankerous duet “In Spite of Ourselves”, spitting, “I grew up in an orange/The inside was made of bricks/And every driver living there was just a bunch of dicks.” When Woodfield tells him, “You’ve got the biggest eyes I have ever seen,” however, he responds bashfully (“Well, thank you!”) in the vein of Jade and Alexander’s infamous exchange in “Home”.
This hodgepodge of influences, for better or worse, peppers Dark Roots. The scintillating “206” scuttles on a trip-hop beat that echoes Portishead, and there, just past the one-minute mark, that’s “Clint Eastwood”’s snare. Woodfield’s timbre echoes Karen O’s to a lawsuit-worthy tee on opener “Treasure Coast”. Once you get past the knee-jerk aural responses, however, there’s a lot to admire on Dark Roots.
“Kites” floats on the same languid rhythm as “206”, but tinkling chimes and swelling violins swap the former’s sex appeal for nostalgia, especially as Woodfield pleads, “Please be careful with me.” Those subtle instrumental touches and insightful glimpses of vulnerability add dimension to the album’s honeymoon gloss, leaving no doubt that Blonds will develop as a band as Asher and Woodfield grow as a couple.
Essential Tracks: “Kites”, “206”