There is not a wealth of information on the Internet about UK duo Big Deal. That’s cause for some degree of fascination—usually, by the time a band has a couple demo tracks and a planned 7″ we feel entitled to know the GPS of the suburban bedroom their original cassette tapes came from. In this case, however, aside from some fake names, things are pretty sparse. You can find, however, ample music.
I was first drawn to Big Deal because they sounded nothing like what I’d imagined. I knew they were a male-female duo who split vocal duties, which causes my mind to default to a very cutsie call-and-answer vision. The picture that accompanied the blog post I read didn’t stray too far from this image: two kids in white shirts in front of a white backdrop looking all sorts of forlorn and beautiful. But then I heard “Talk,” which is not cute at all. There’s an immediate darkness that permeates the song and Alice Costelloe’s voice. It’s a nice portrait of teen-angst and scorned love. The chorus is ominous—All I wanna do is talk, cause seeing you fucks me up. Before we ever get there, Costello croons It’s OK, I’m just a kid. It’s OK, I’ll get over it. It’s an earnest declaration that she sells well, whether or not it’s true. When band-mate Kacey Underwood gets into the mix, it only deepens the vibe.
The song that really got me enamored with Big Deal was their cover of one of the most earnest pop songs ever written, Big Star’s “Thirteen.” It’s a holy grail song, of which almost any cover is a poor decision. If nothing else, they made the track their own. Their singing is endearingly lazy and gives their take an apt slowed and sultry, love-or-bust feel.
The balance between the duo is what makes their work compelling. They play off each other well, playing lovestruck lamenters, embattled exes, or confused kids within the span of a few minutes. Throughout, you trust they’re going to get through the whole mess at some point. The group just released “Chair,” the lead single from their official debut album, Lights Out. “Chair” is a bit more peppy than the tracks I fell for, but the vocal symbiosis and big emotional spectrum is still there. Lights Out is due October 11th on Mute.