Jenny is singer/actress Jennifer Lewis – usually found fronting Rilo Kiley – and Johnny is her boyfriend, Jonathan Rice, who has worked with Lewis since 2005, and has also backed Elvis Costello. However, this isn't some lovey-dovey snuggle up. With the duo sharing vocals and occasionally bickering like Jack and Vera Duckworth, the pair's sound is comfortable – somewhere between 1980s indie jangle pop, 1960s Byrds-type guitar chiming and modern MOR. But the easy-listening melodies hide lyrical bite and references to everything from mental illness to sex with strangers. Big Wave sounds cheery but tells the haunting story of someone crushed by the economic crisis, and the ode to defiance that is While Men Are Still Dreaming is stirring and beautiful. Contrarily, the outstanding Switchblade allies their best melody to a lyric about someone whose life was ruined by money. The line "Poverty kept you sleek, and dreams kept you young," might be something for a lot of people to cling to in the coming months.
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author