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Songs We Love: St. Lenox, 'Just Friends'

New York songwriter Andrew Choi remembers the '90s as St. Lenox.
New York songwriter Andrew Choi remembers the '90s as St. Lenox.

It's hard to believe that Andy Choi, the gigantic voice behind St. Lenox, was an award-winning teenage violinist. That was back in the mid-'90s, a time the New York songwriter romanticizes to charming effect throughout his debut album, Ten Songs About Memory And Hope.

"Just Friends" is a soaring song that poignantly chronicles all the irreparable differences that added up to a pair of broken hearts. Choi spends the song trying to make sense of what went wrong: "You never could be on time and / I never was much of a lover and / I never could stand to lose an argument at a party." But Choi isn't navel-gazing here: He belts out his regrets with uncanny melisma, like John Darnielle channeling Tony Clifton. As odd as it sounds, it's a genuinely affecting affect.

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