Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
A line in one of the newer Husband & Wife songs goes exactly like this, "You aren't the only one to tell me I'm wrong about love," and you can hear it in all its streaming glory over at their MySpace page, right next to the photograph of the four Indiana residents standing in the basket of a largely tomato red hot air balloon. As that line is sung, there's an immediate flood of rationale that comes over this guy that has me completely in their thralls, dialing up old and bound memories that were punishing in their collusions with those younger days of extremities that have been happily left behind in the coughing dust, the hacking exhaust of goodbyes. It recalls all of the romantic failures that didn't make sense at the time, but now are no longer fuzzy and completely justifiable. The chemistries were rank from the start, the two of us meshed atrociously and we should have known it, but there were blockades and foolish blinders slid into place to assure that it wouldn't happen, that we'd just have to find out for ourselves what exactly we knew about love and what exactly we could find out about each other through the old conventions and the old feeling it out process. They don't make easy buttons for chemistry experiments, and they (whomever they are) don't make them for people. People are going to screw up love more than they screw up anything else in their lives from here until the last feeble blips of their pulses run themselves all the way down to straight lines of cold blood. The Bloomington band willingly goes after their own rejections and their own sad lucks with keen acknowledgement that these are gentle matters, those of the heart, and they can't be pushed too hard or startled because they will vanish along with time and then there's just a hollow and hulking pit to build around. A longing develops and then it turns itself into an eyesore for all to see. People, when they want to interact with one another, need to be gentle and would actually prefer it, even those most hardened and strong. Someone wrong about love - and being told that they're wrong about love by the very people who they're trying to love - is not going to recover from such a conversation as quickly as one might recover from a comment alluding to someone thinking you're a jerk-off. Being told you're wrong about love means that there is a possibility that there will always be a vacancy felt and a vacancy pending if something does not change. Husband & Wife have expertly created a tone and an undulating milieu that provides a melancholic version of compassion that isn't at all self-deprecating or amusing, but more of an involuntary reaction to the ever-evolving terrain of what it means to be uncertain about some of the human basics. Shelter and food are intrinsically easy - it's made of trees and rocks and it's grown on trees and next to rocks - but it's that love thing, nay the capacity to love properly, that is such an odd thing to confidently roll with. A sweet blending of Matthew Caws-like cool and gravity, along with a succulent and smoky wall of melody and requisite indie rock and roll guitar narrative to go with a beat of spring storms is the shape that the band lives through and they get us asking questions that won't budge. The answers lie in the possibility of betterment and oddly, in questioning the potentiality of betterment, of learning the secrets of our subtleties that refuse to be unveiled without some incentive.
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