Within These Walls, in 2007, marked the first time the two took on the production role; the result was a serene slow burn, like one of those religious candles that flickers for weeks on end at a pace just above a standstill. Yang: "We had very much wanted to make Within These Walls as slow as possible. There were a lot of hard things happening in our lives then, and it came through in the songs. So when we started to work on False Beats and True Hearts, we really felt it was time for a change. We wanted it to be brighter and more up-tempo, and we were thinking about the record before. This time we really wanted it to be more . . . happy."
No one is going to mistake Damon & Naomi for Katrina and the Waves, but there is an element of joyousness that hasn't exactly been a beacon of their prior outings. The duo are again working with saxophonist Bhob Rainey and trumpeter Greg Kelley on some tracks (and in occasional live shows). And Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara remains the secret weapon, his orchestral sustained notes wrapping around each track like ivy climbing a wall. On "Walking Backwards," Kurihara does more than just accent the sound, feeding back into the dramatic intro and then laying down a subtle, fuzzy solo. The sonic shift — more aggressive in its rhythm and sound — may come as a surprise, but Yang says there are no restrictions on the direction the group will go in. "It's never, 'No, no, no — Damon & Naomi would never do this.' ''
One thing the two would never do, though, is revisit their Galaxie 500 catalogue live. At least, not to the extent that Wareham has, beginning last year when he started touring under the banner "Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500."
"That was a bit of a surprise," Yang muses. "That's not something that Damon or I would have chosen to do. It seems a bit strange, but I guess there are financial rewards, which is I guess why he did it, but I can't imagine there's artistic rewards in it. I feel like some of the songs, even Damon and I sometimes will take out an old song and do it for a live show, but it's usually one that we feel can still relate to what we're doing now in some way and have brought into the present with us. But the idea of just playing the songs we wrote 25 years ago, in the exact same way 25 years later, I feel like that sort of denies any kind of emotional or artistic growth — speaking for myself. I can't think of anything more depressing than doing that. It's just not interesting to me at all."
But it's not as if Damon & Naomi had completely shunned their past — quite the opposite. Krukowski bought up all the Galaxie 500 music, and last year he oversaw an expansive reissue and deluxe-editions project of the material the band had released through Sub Pop. "It's not something we want to disavow in any way," Yang acknowledges. "It's great that people are still interested in the music, and we're happy to make it available. I think Galaxie 500 has been sort of lucky in that people have continued to find us long since the band broke up. But I definitely think that happens for every generation. The band broke up after a very fairly short time, and I think that always helps make you more appealing."