Here's something we don't spend a lot of time thinking about in the record store: angst comes in more than flavour.
The morbidly depressed, endlessly tormented, and fascinatingly morose likes of Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Downward Spiral-era Trent Reznor tend to get most of the attention, and there's little arguing that's not entirely deserved. Misery loves company, and the last thing anyone wants to be listening to when everything's none-more-sad is Pharrell Williams's "Happy", Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy", or "Put on a Happy Face" by Dick Van Dyke.
Instead, we want Nirvana's "Pennyroyal Tea" and the pretty much perfect lines, "Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/So I can sigh eternally". Or everything by the Smiths, Portishead, and the fantastically untouchable Lana Del Rey.
But as proven by "I Won't Lie"—a new collaboration between Vancouver's Fionn, and Vancouverite-via-London solo artist Mauvey—sometimes angst comes in a sleek and silky-smooth package.
A duo that describes itself as "young women with old souls", Fionn is Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris—twin sisters with a serious thing for the likes of Lorde and Frank Ocean. With Mauvey you get suave R&B with an indie-pop edge, along with a penchant for hair the colour of Lik-M-Aid's irresistible Grape Yumptious dipping powder.
For most of "I Won't Lie" it's Fionn's show, the Finn-Morris siblings working a downbeat vibe with dark-tower strings and minimalist-minded percussion. And that couldn't go better with lines like "I've been tossing pennies in the same well/Pushing back my hair like I'm the same still/Holding onto parties like an old pill".
Visually, even when things are flooded with neon-hued pinks, blues, and purples, the mood is somehow greyer than Vancouver in November. As for smiling, that's for other folks. You're never going to see nine people on the same queen-sized bed look so righteously bummed. Not even the empty liquor bottle on the night table seems to have helped.
When Mauvey shows up and then decides to stick around at the 1:25 mark, the mood changes. One minute Mauvey's locked in a good old-fashioned yelling match, the next he's shoved flat on his ass. Think about that moment the next time you decide to wear your shoes in the house two minutes after someone's just vacuumed.
Not only wearing a kangol hat, but pulling off the almost impossible task of looking good while doing so, Mauvey surfaces again at the 2:40 mark, this time outside. After a quick clinic in velvety suave urban excellence, things end on a note that suggests nothing's going to be okay. Which is perfectly fine.
There are times when angst can be beautiful. And this is one of them.