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The Softies

The Softies got started in 1994 when Rose Melberg, formerly of the celebrated twee outfit Tiger Trap as well as Go Sailor, and Pretty Face alumna Jen Sbragia got together and started playing together. After only a handful of practices they realized how well their voices and sensibilities complemented one another, borrowed the name of a little-known late '70s British New Wave outfit, and started touring.

You might never have imagined pop music could be this sweet and soft without being saccharine and false, but soft and genuine is what The Softies are all about. Their two tender voices and harmonious guitars tumble one after the other in a quiet waterfall that mixes up autumn's melancholy and spring's promise. Their deceptively simple lyrics are full of subtle, intricate readings of the subtexts of relationships, of the details you overlook at the time but which mean everything in retrospect. "The Best Days" is a gorgeous, reflective almost-love song from the Softies' second album Winter Pageant, the follow-up to their equally brilliant debut, It's Love, both on K Records. From their 1996 self-titled Slumberland EP, "Snow Like This" and "Postal Blue" are, like so many of The Softies' songs, beautiful bittersweet nursery rhymes for grown-ups.

After three and a half years of silence, The Softies finally returned in 2000 with a new release, Holiday in Rhode Island, on K, which includes "Sleep Away Your Troubles." The song and the album are vintage Softies -- nothing but two chiming, jangly guitars and a pair of bracing, crystal clear voices --but Rose and Jen sound a little older, a little wiser, and maybe a little sadder.