Semi-new Song Sundays: Parekh & Singh

A duo from India reminds me to let pop music be pop, and not to dwell on how quickly the early 2000s are receding from the present.

This week’s entry in music that’s new, to me at least: “I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll” by Indian pop duo Parekh & Singh.

If I’m being honest, it’s really hard for me to turn off the hypercritical part of my brain, the part that says “Wow, these guys were hardcore into Rushmore,” and dismiss it as twee. Because that’s pretty asinine, when a perfectly charming pop song can nail a sound and a feeling, and come across as being a loving tribute to a style instead of simply a crass reproduction of it.

After all, I was really hardcore into Rushmore for a while, too, and I remember how it seemed like such a revelation to hear songs like “Concrete and Clay” for the first time. And since 2020 has been depressing enough, I’ll just conveniently ignore the alarming fact that Rushmore is now over 20 years old (!), meaning that the present is almost as far removed from that movie as that movie was from the songs on its soundtrack. At this point, the style isn’t even so much aping Wes Anderson as it is something that’s become fully integrated into popular culture.

The thing I especially like about the “I Love You Baby” video is how the scenes and details of India are incorporated. I was definitely not a fan of Anderson’s own attempt to do that — The Darjeeling Limited — but I feel like these guys’ videos do a better job of capturing what that movie was going for. There’s a sense of “You know, we don’t really need you to come over here to show India to western audiences; we’ve had TVs and cameras and musical instruments for quite a while, actually.”

I like the music well enough, but the videos are what really makes it feel like 21st century cross-cultural celebration.

Another favorite of mine is “Summer Skin,” which is dreamy and seems to drift between the late 60s and the early 2000s. The un-forced vocals over spacey, jangly guitars somehow conjure an image for me of Cass Elliott collaborating with Stone Roses.