If one accepts the premise that songwriting is therapeutic, then the works of Parker Noon and Lily Wolfe provide the soundtrack of couples counseling gone horribly -- and beautifully -- awry. Noon and Wolfe, known professionally as Parker & Lily on 2001's Hello Halo and this year's stunning Here Comes Winter, use the quirks and foibles of their normally dysfunctional relationship as illuminating lyrical fodder.
But don't misread Parker & Lily's penchant for confessing each other's sins as some kind of cloying passion play. The duo (augmented by new vocalist-keyboardist Christina Campanella and touring percussionists in a live setting) plays everything icy smooth -- but with soul, empathy, and a noirish sense of art-for-heart's-sake. The duo constructs a French carnival/ lounge-pop musical dream state that juxtaposes the endearing menace of Nick Cave and Lou Reed with the melancholy twinkle of Cowboy Junkies and Portishead. In a similar vein to Stephin Merritt/Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, Parker & Lily have stripped down the overwrought clichés of love's natural mood swings to make their glaringly truthful revelations more palatable and identifiable. In short, this is one couch trip worth taking.