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EXES: The Pop Duo Helping us Embrace our Emotional Past

The remnants of my first relationships belong to the internet now…

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…stored on LiveJournal and Myspace, forgotten and left behind as my world began to grow. Eventually, I graduated to leather bound journals. My writing was horrendous (my emo/angst driven phase lasted way longer than I freely admit) but there was something poetic in ripping the letters to past loves out of a beautiful journal and then setting them on fire.

When I go through heartbreak, mutual or not, it’s always messy. There’s a guaranteed period of ugly crying, binging on Ben & Jerry’s and chocolate until I hate myself, and watching movies that will deliberately make me feel more like shit.

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Then I found the west coast group EXES whose last line of their Facebook biography is simply “we write songs about our exes” and damn do they do it so well. Seamlessly fusing Mike Derenzo’s electronic soundscapes with Allie McDonald’s ethereal vocals. Allie exposes her personal experiences in compelling, detail-oriented pop songs packed with hypnotic beats, wistful lyrics, and raw vulnerability.

One example of that vulnerability is the poignant “Cain” which paints a picture of love, loss, and retrospect. Allie shared a quote about her touching song,

“Cain might be the most difficult and personal song we’ve ever written. Cain was my muse–my inspiration–my first love. Although we were thousands of miles apart, we somehow found each other years ago. Our virtual relationship was composed purely of poems, songs, words, emails. I was never able to touch or meet Cain–he passed away in 2015. 6 months after his death, in what felt like a movie, I flew to England to meet his friends and family. This song is about that night I spent with his mom and best friend drinking champagne and dancing until the sun came up–reminiscing on a love that almost and will always be.”

Give it a listen, we’ll probably still be crying when you’re done.

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