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William Ingrid

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Kristen Larson has a fantastic voice. It’s so good that when Derek Larson—her husband and partner in the Portland, Ore., synth-pop duo William Ingrid—sings on a track, you kind of wonder if he broke into the studio and overdubbed himself when no one was looking. Derek murmurs the same ’90s soul-inflected runs as Kristen without the vocal power. It’s like if Garfunkel had the business sense to marry Simon.

Derek is responsible for the beats, though, and the beats complement Kristen’s centerpiece voice like a clean white tablecloth. They are dry and spare, assembling austere backdrops from out-of-the-box drum and organ sounds. The power of such artifice to bring out the human richness in Kristen’s voice is startlingly evident on the few tracks that use analog instruments; the harp on “Before That,” for example, drags the whole project down to the realm of the merely twee.

It turns out that real/really fake is a potent combination, and William Ingrid is at its best when it mines the contrast. There are chilly, beautiful pop songs in the Larsons’ repertoire. There are also mediocre indulgences, but in music as in marriage, it’s the wins that count.

William Ingrid plays the Palace Thu., Dec. 20, at 9 PM with The Turnoffs and Fancy Child. Free.

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