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Album Review

The second collaborative album between Miss Murgatroid and Petra Haden, following some years after Bella Neurox, finds the two performers' aesthetics just as intriguingly in tune with each other as before — it's not too much to say that for all the deserved attention both have received for their individual work, their collaborations take them to a spot they might not have found on their own. Hearts and Daggers isn't just a matter of blending styles and voices — as the sweeping drone-then-exultant Arabian pop hints of the opening "We Formulate" shows, it's the whole package, an instant setting of mood that lets strings and accordion combine and recombine. This same sense of the familiar and the proudly artistic defines all of Hearts and Daggers, with Murgatroid's and Haden's singing often wordless, relying on the timber of their voices, sometimes in harmony but more often playing against each other, much like their respective instruments, to suggest moods rather than dictate them through specific word choices. "See Me See Me" is a stellar example of this, the music moving from gently tense to calm and then sweetly playful, their vocals cascading back and forth over the music before switching back to the more tightly wound feeling once more. As a result, though, when they do switch to straightforward lyrics, as they suddenly do in "Fade Away" before shifting to a gorgeous Beach Boys-style descending melodic collage, or right from the start with "Something's Wrong," Murgatroid's one solo writing credit on the album, the feeling is almost one of shock.

Hearts & Daggers, Miss Murgatroid
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