The release of Jack & Amy’s debut four-track EP, “Winter”: a multi-year work, chronicles what the duo chillingly refers to as “the coldest season of their lives.” Jack & Amy are an indie electronic group comprised of keyboardist and composer Dan Rufolo and singer and composer Joyce Kwon. The album makes abundantly clear that Dan and Joyce are both classically-trained multi-instrumentalists, who together, form a witches brew of intelligent, brooding moods.
“The Sound of Your Hello” opens the EP with a lonesome piano progression that builds, then explodes into clever chords and a heavy, doomsday procession, reminiscent of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Radiohead, and refined post-rock sensibilities. Joyce’s repeated bellowing of “How easily I forget”, contrasted with her soothing vocal quality and delicate articulations, is at once melancholic and demanding. The listener is left with a similar pang that accompanies encountering an old lover.
The second track, “Plus-size Fairy”- my favorite track of the album- shifts into a more playful gear. With Dan’s blooming synth chords and electronic flourishes, along with Joyce’s honey-like, ethereal vocals, the track offers the wonder of a children’s story, and the sobering disappointment of a morning alarm. Jack & Amy accomplish all of this without losing touch of the group’s established gloom. Throughout “Plus-size Fairy’s” quixotic lyricism, fairy tale references, and major and minor meandering, the listener is left to wonder: does the song describe pure fantasy? Or an affirmation shadowed by self-doubt? This track captures a vulnerability and confidence that is instantaneously relatable.
Some tracks just hold you. The third track, “Yesterday”, is this kind of magic. The first half is a nap by the cosmic poolside, driven by the first electronic beat of the album. Be warned: as you’re about to be lulled to sleep, live drums stir you back into an invigorating power-pop section that Built-To-Spill fans will adore. At this point, the band launches itself well above the bar they’ve set, creating a commanding rock-out that is distinct from, yet complimentary to the preceding lullaby.
Jack & Amy’s concluding track, “I See You”, is the album’s unanticipated twist. The track gives a clear nod to chill electronic predecessors like Little Dragon, with complex yet infectious beats and layered Laurie Anderson-like vocals. The interplay between sprawling basslines, and heavily-effected percussion produces an off-kilter sensation, reinforcing the track’s “dangerous” lyrical concept. A testament to the group’s masterful technique, I hope “I See You” is a hint at the group’s future direction.
The duo has produced an elegant weave of indie dreamscapes, dark lyrics, and electronic musings. “Winter” is a must-listen for electronic, experimental and dream pop enthusiasts, and anyone nostalgic for early-aughts indie.
The “Winter” EP is available on Jack & Amy’s bandcamp, at wearejackandamy.bandcamp.com
Kyle Casey Chu is a San Francisco Native QPOC Musician, based in Brooklyn. He currently works as an MSSW Advocacy Organizer for the New York Civil Liberties Union.