The New York-based pop duo Eighty Ninety — brothers Abner James (vocals, production) and Harper James (guitar, production) — quickly exploded into the national and international scenes with the viral hit, “Three Thirty,” which rose to #2 on Spotify’s Global Viral Charts. Building upon a rapidly growing profile and the buzz surrounding them, followed up the success of “Three Thirty” with their debut EP Elizabeth.
Their debut EP found the duo further cementing their sound and approach: minimalist pop productions featuring a slick mix of electronic sounds and organic instrumentation paired with infectious hooks and sticky melodies, which they’ve dubbed “808s and Telecasters” — a joking shorthand for their sound and their anything goes mentality to their creative process. “We let the emotional arc of the song, rather than any set of genre conventions, lead us to instruments and sounds,” the brothers say of their process.
Since the release of their Elizabeth EP, the duo’s material have amassed over 26 million streams and have been featured on a numerous Spotify playlists, including New Music Friday, Pop Rising, Indie Pop, Chill Vibes, Viral Hits — and was selected by Taylor Swift on her Songs Taylor Loves playlist.
The duo closes out 2020 with their latest single, “Better as Friends.” Centered around a lush arrangement of glistening synth arpeggios, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, thumping beats paired with Abner James’ yearning, ethereal falsetto and an infectious hook, “Better as Friends” is a radio friendly pop confection that brings JOVM mainstays like Washed Out, Summer Heart and Cones to mind. But despite the breezy pop vibes, the song is underpinned by the bitter recognition that both platonic and romantic relationships can be confusing and uncertain.
“Better as Friends” is the second official single off the New York-based duo’s Gian Stone-produced, sophomore EP slated for release next year. In the meantime, the duo released a cinematic and decidedly minimalist video for their new single that’s split between intimately shot performance footage of the band in their studio and the act’s frontman on a rooftop during golden hour in New York. Interestingly, the video manages to capture the brooding and heartache at the core of its accompanying song.