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It’s hard to believe, but dream-pop progenitors Damon & Naomi have been making music together for a quarter of a century–first over the course of three albums as two-thirds of seminal indie act Galaxie 500 and for the past two decades as their current eponymous act. Over the span of this tenure the pair has given shape to entire musical movements across the indie spectrum, influencing a swath of acts including Death Cab for Cutie, Low, Mazzy Star, and Mojave 3. Any band whose music has turned ponderous and spacious over the past few decades likely owes a debt of gratitude, directly or otherwise, to Damon & Naomi.
These days, the act is sporting a new album in the form of the recently released False Beats & True Hearts. While the tunes are new, the sound is familiar to anyone who has followed the duo or its many followers. After a searing (and arguably somewhat misplaced) guitar introduction by frequent collaborator Michio Kurihara of Ghost, “Walking Backwards” settles into the sort of sedate groove Damon & Naomi all but patented. Damon Krukowski handles lead vocals on the cut, letting his words hang in the air with backup from Naomi Yang, and soon the whole affair carries the hazy, psychedelic-tinged flavor that has become their calling card.
In the track’s chorus, Krukowski sings, “For I’m not the kind / who lives forward in time… / It’s all that I can do/ Is walking backwards with you.” He may as well be delivering a message directly to Yang, providing commentary on their illustrious past together and the notion that, despite so many years united, the duo have never strayed too far afield from the brand of dream-pop they built together. There isn’t any shame in that, and with his lyrics Krukowski seems to concur.