The Pupils: The Pupils
Duos of one guitarist and one vocalist usually result in the sort of folk piffle that you can find in coffee shops from Maine to Oregon. But when the guitarist is Asa Osborne and the vocalist is Daniel Higgs--who make up one half of the Baltimore quartet Lungfish--what results is far from ordinary. Osborne has a knack for getting propulsive motion out of astonishingly simple two-chord guitar progressions. For the Pupils self-titled debut, he strips down his already basic guitar sound to its incendiary elements, which become the chugging strum of "Fountain Flame" and "The Mind Is a Hole in the Body," the starkly picked texture of "It's Good to Have Met You," or the flat-out fucked instrumental "Lambs With Human Hands." Osborne is occasionally joined by Higgs' guitar and/or a drum machine that coughs out a rhythmic ripple to play off Osborne's alchemy, but the baroque bric-a-brac really levitates once Higgs opens his mouth and emits his modernist poetry qua primal-scream-therapy lyrics. Explaining--hell, following--Higgs lyrics is a bit like making a Zen koan make sense. About the best you can do is hear him roar, "When a single throat sounds a thousand voices/ one thousand voices congeal in song/ a song one thousand lifetimes long," and think, well, yeah. And that's just fine.