The dual forces of shadow and light, despair and hope, frustration and catharsis are at play in the music of Cupid & Psyche, the Los Angeles-based indie rock duo of Michael Vidal and Juan Velasquez. First gaining recognition in the late aughts as members of the punk band Abe Vigoda, whose 2010 album Crush was named one of the "Best 50 Albums of the 2010s" by Pitchfork, the two have reunited as collaborators for the first time in a decade. Cathartic jam sessions would birth the emotionally resonant songs that appear on their debut album, Romantic Music. Though they pull from a wide array of `80s and `90s influences, Cupid & Psyche bring together these disparate moods and genres through their own esoteric lens on Romantic Music_making for a singular sound that at once feels familiar and alluringly hypnotic. Listeners will detect the gloom of post-punk and goth, the haziness of dream-pop and shoegaze, the bittersweet guitar melodies of second-wave emo, and the manic electronic rhythms of trip-hop and big beat. The immersive soundscapes on Romantic Music are sometimes agitated and driving, while other times ethereal and transcendent. This duality matches the album's lyrics of looking for a divine escape from the grim realities of existence, as well as the darkest parts of one's psyche. "The thesis of the album is trying to transcend the limits of life and the struggle therein," Vidal says. "There's a lot of lyrics about feeling trapped or frustrated, and then trying to find a way out. There's a lot of times I sing of hope and grasping towards love. But maybe in trying to escape, you take the wrong door, be it substance abuse or other vices." Now as Cupid & Psyche, Vidal and Velasquez return to a friendship that creatively feels like home_except this time, with more experience, self-knowledge, and less pressure to make anything other than the music that emerges naturally. The LP's title Romantic Music is tongue-in-cheek, since there are no love songs proper on the project, and the phrase itself can imply a kind of light listening. But it befits that deep bond that the members have, as friends who understand and empathize with each other's worst, so they're capable of bringing out each other's best.