It's hard to explain my 1990s love affair with bands like Cub and Delightful Little Nothings, but just listen to Shellshag and you might get an inkling of it. This Brooklyn duo (a couple, natch) is reviving cuddlecore, and I like it.
John Driver (Shell) and Jennifer Shagawat (Shag) take shifts on vocals, while Shag's drums keep the songs going at a jaunty clip. A skirling, swooping, fuzzy, cuddly guitar blanket fills out the sound and hints at a Pixies/Breeders influence. Rumors in Disguise opens with "1984," which brought me back, emotionally, to 1994. It could have been a Belly song. "Means That Much," utterly sweet soundtrack material, features the great side-by-side suggestions "You can take the angels away from the gods/You can take the needles away from the nods/But don't take tonight."
Shell sings with a tenor voice that has just a touch of plumy depth to it, and he enunciates with pleasurably expressive variability. Shag's voice is pitch perfect indie-rock chick: a little spray of gravel, no vibrato, a cool high chest voice. When they sing together, I'm in heaven. This album isn't perfect—there are a few clunkers—but it makes me damned happy.
Shellshag plays the Palace Tuesday, June 22, at 9 PM with At Home in the Cosmos and The Blox. $5.