You can't be shamed for reading Etiquette, the latest project title Julie Fader and Graham Walsh are collaborating under, as a creative prompt that guides the duo's output. You also can't be shamed for having difficulty accepting the melancholic, introspective electro-pop and the heart-sore reflections Fader breathes throughout the couple's debut, Reminisce, as authentic musings; it's hard to process information of the soured battles complicating any domestic partnership, let alone an ongoing one that's publicly sown a history of collaboration as impressive as Fader and Walsh's. But relationships are complicated, and Reminisce is as simple as that.
Even when they're delivered in the second person, when Fader sings over Walsh's sometimes pillow-cloudy, sometimes locomotive, and always fittingly surreal synth soundscapes about anxiously processing conversational cues (on "Pleasantries" and "Brown and Blue"), peering up at the night sky and talking with the stars ("Sleep to Wake") or islands you don't need a boat to get to ("Island"), we're hearing how profoundly isolated the human experience can be. Over the course of Reminisce's nine songs, that situation is lamented as often as it is romanticized, and that serves to underline how singular and fragile people and the relationships they forge can be. It is a promotion of self-realization as well as interpersonal responsibility.
With Reminisce, Etiquette submit an emotional, philosophical record expounding on the deeply coded existential experiences of interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict and how those experiences should inform our actions. Etiquette advise what not to do when things go wrong, but the simplest solution Fader and Walsh offer those seeking to make right is written into the very circumstance of the recording, and it is also the most complicated one: to do it together. (Hand Drawn Dracula)