Girl meets boy: the coolest new indie duos

Suddenly the most fashionable band is a double act of each gender – friends, lovers, or brother and sister. Gillian Orr asks some of the best if their closeness can cause problems
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The Independent Culture

It seems that girl/boy musical duos are experiencing something of an indie renaissance at present. This is by no means a new set-up. In the Sixties and Seventies these types of bands were commonplace: Sonny and Cher, Gainsbourg and Birkin, Hazlewood and Sinatra, the Carpenters.

Probably the most famous girl/boy duo of recent times is the White Stripes whose sheer innovativeness no doubt inspired some of the acts around today. It's a tempting pairing. Together they can bring a more substantial range of experience to their songwriting while, being just two people, remaining personal and tight. And with inexpensive technology and software being commonplace and without the constraints of being a typical five piece band, two people can happily make their own rules and create something hip, experimental and exciting. Just don't mention The Ting Tings.

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Not that any of these bands sound alike. She & Him recently brought their cutesy country-blues sound to London where cult singer-songwriter M Ward happily let actress Zooey Deschanel take centre-stage.

The moody Canadians, Crystal Castles, released their second album of gutter-crunk this week. Plenty of people still think La Roux is one person, but Ben Langmaid might have something to say about that. Rising Californian duo Best Coast take a similar approach, with Bobb Bruno not even appearing in photoshoots with singer Bethany Cosentino.

So, without the autonomy of being a solo artist, and without the slacking off you can get away with in a band, just how do the dynamics work when there are only two of you? What does it feel like to create and share something so personal with one other person? Is romance, or perhaps more likely, violence, commonplace?

We talk to a few duos comprised of new and old friends, relatives, even lovers, to find out how it feels to be one half of a whole and why this intimate set-up works for them.