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Twee
December 12, 2013 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for twee art. You can define this as broadly as you like, and if you want to include how you are defining the word, feel free. But I am looking for art that you actually like that is nonetheless decidedly twee.

I am looking for the following categories, but if there is something else that you want to recommend that doesn't fit into a category, feel free to offer it up as well.

1. Film
2. Music
3. Television
4. Literature
5. Fine arts
6. Comics and graphic storytelling

These can be intended for adults or for children or for nobody in particular. These can be new pieces or they can be very old. They can be American or from anywhere on earth (or elsewhere, I suppose). And I am already familiar with Wes Anderson and Miranda July, so they need not be added. Thanks!
posted by Bunny Ultramod to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I adore Belle & Sebastian, and they are about the twee-est band on the planet.
posted by COBRA! at 8:25 AM on December 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


How about The Black Apple?
posted by nonasuch at 8:27 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


The vast majority of Momus, James Kolchaka's Elf, Blankets, Patrick Elkins, pretty much everything on We're Twins records. I'll think of more later, it was the dominant mode of music in my college town while I was writing about music.
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Field Mice (hell, most of Sarah Records but especially the Field Mice) are one of my favorite bands and about as twee as you can get.

Also, there's a mixtape floating around the web called Twee As Fuck: The Joy of Kittenhood (to differentiate it from all the other "Twee As Fuck" mixtapes, I guess) and it is just bursting with wonderful music.
posted by griphus at 8:28 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Feeding the Rabbits.

Needs no explanation
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:29 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have season tickets to the opera this year, and knowing very little about opera in general or specific operas specifically, I really just got them on a lark based on having really enjoyed the few operas that I have seen, and have been going in to these not knowing what to expect.

I saw Die Fledermaus on Tuesday and haaaaaated it. (I actually left at the second intermission, realizing I'd rather have an extra hour of sleep than an extra hour of Die Fledermaus.) All I could think while I was watching it was "ugh, this is so unbearably twee."

So, twee opera: Die Fledermaus.

I say this having not seen any of Mozart's operas yet...in general I find Mozart's music to be pretty twee and so tend to avoid him.
posted by phunniemee at 8:31 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just came in to suggest Emily Winfield Martin (the Black Apple).

Also, the illustrator Oksana Badrak (1, 2).

Finally, many of the artists who work with Poketo in LA and Buy Olympia in Portland are pretty twee. Worth a look.
posted by purpleclover at 8:35 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Winnie the Pooh is probably the twee-est book. It forms dental cavities at arm's length.

Twee music? Trixie's Big Red Motorbike (bandcamp, example: Norman And Narcissus) out-tweed them all by not actually ever having a record deal and recording all their stuff on a domestic tape recorder and yet still got airplay on John Peel.
posted by scruss at 8:40 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Michel Gondry & Bjork, separately and together.
posted by sweetkid at 8:42 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think The Blue Danube is twee - but I love it.
posted by Ziggy500 at 8:46 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of Megan Kelso's comics in "The Squirrel Mother" are about being a young girl in the 70s, and they fall sort of partway between the Wes Anderson vision of childhood and the Lynda Barry vision of childhood. It's not TWEE AS FUCK in the goofy-ass indie-pop sense, and it's not totally saccharine, but it's self-consciously sentimental and nostalgic in a way that really works.

(And then after all that there's a charming bit of Founding Fathers slash fiction in there for no real reason except why the fuck not.)

On the unselfconsciously twee side of the fence, I'd recommend the Redwall series, which is the cuddliest, coziest, friendliest, kindest set of fantasy adventure novels anyone could possibly write.

Oh and you've read The Little Prince, right? If not, stop everything right now and go read The Little Prince.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:50 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Camera Obscura
posted by telegraph at 8:51 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you are looking for music, you should read the old-but-excellent Pitchfork article Twee As Fuck: The Story of Indie Pop. Lots of different artists mentioned, plus a general history of the scene.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:52 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


And there's an Ursula LeGuinn book you might like called "Very Far Away from Anything Else." It's a very gentle, very sentimental YA novel, but it still has the sort of startling perceptiveness-about-the-human-condition that you'd expect out of LeGuinn, plus some Bridge-To-Terabinthia-for-grownups interior fantasy world stuff. It's all very prettily told.

And, here's the big selling point for you, the main characters are straight out of Wes Anderson: precocious emotionally-childlike teenage art nerds in some kind of vague ambiguous love.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:58 AM on December 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


CTRL+F Tullycraft . . . really, no? They have a song called "Fuck me, I'm Twee". Even their serious songs are twee as fuck. They are the tweeziest.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:00 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


For movies, Damsels in Distress
posted by wsquared at 9:04 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Winnie the Pooh is probably the twee-est book. It forms dental cavities at arm's length.

Hmm, not sure about this. The books and even the original Disney movie have a vein of very adult cynicism running through the narration, though later Disney versions would be . . . well, Disneyfied.

Beatrix Potter, on the other hand, was adorable, super twee, and mostly very earnest.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Contemporary twee folk: Sylvie Lewis and The Weepies (particularly the styling of the latter's visual materials). Try Erin McKeown ("Slung-Lo" or "Queen of Quiet"). Jolie Holland is sort of spooky-twee ("Springtime Can Kill You," "The Littlest Birds" as part of the Be Good Tanyas), as is Mirah ("Lone Star"). Regina Spektor ("Reading Time with Pickle," come on!)
posted by purpleclover at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to nominate She & Him. Zooey Deschanel is twee as twee can be.
posted by Syllables at 9:15 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


William Bougareau is the very definition of twee in painting, and a guilty pleasure.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh god Erin McKeown! Yes! Her more recent stuff is less like this, but Distillation (the one with "Queen of Quiet" on it) is sublimely twee. Whispered vocals! Nursery rhymes! Lesbian cowboy love song!

And! Also! You should listen to Hem's Rabbit Songs, which is one part alt-country/Americana and one part honest-to-god tender shepherd-style retro lullaby chamber music.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:40 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would put Hospitality in the twee-but-never-cloying category.
posted by umbú at 9:47 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I very much like the Los Campesinos! album Hold On Now, Youngster but it is really fucking twee. Their later stuff is less twee.
posted by corvine at 9:50 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Softies and The School are great.
posted by Piano Raptor at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tiny grass is dreaming
posted by Tom-B at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade
posted by Tom-B at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


[SELF-LINK!] Diariamente
posted by Tom-B at 10:30 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Taxidermied Mice Chess Set
posted by capricorn at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would consider Dear Nora and Go Sailor to be two twee bands. (Also, a lot of stuff on K Records).

Could the film Daisies be considered twee, or is it too dark? In my mind, it's pretty twee.

Anything with a manic pixie dream girl, but you specifically asked for art we like.
posted by dearwassily at 12:08 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anything with a manic pixie dream girl, but you specifically asked for art we like.

Ah! That would be Chungking Express (second part) and (obvs.) Amélie (or anything else directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet).
posted by Going To Maine at 12:27 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Thiago Pethit from São Paulo, Brazil. Especially his record called Berlim, Texas.
posted by umbú at 1:53 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Dear beloved commenters - Wes Anderson has been mentioned in the question.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Twee comics are an interesting problem. There are surely quite a few webcomics that fit, given the general DIY-ness of the whole thing. (Hark, A Vagrant, certainly. Maybe Cat and Girl, though I don't really think its almost self-parodic nihilism fits the sensibility. It mimics the form but lacks the sentiment.) As to physical comic books, anything by Edward Gorey is about as twee as Wes Anderson, Clumsy by Jeffrey Brown (sentiment, DIY aesthetic, if not the right outfits), and Wimbledon Green by Seth (who's about as twee as The Whelk). Indeed, you'd probably want to go back to old Peanuts cartoons from the 1950s.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:31 PM on December 12, 2013


from Portugal: Rita Braga
posted by Tom-B at 2:43 PM on December 12, 2013


Comics: Nimona
posted by Tom-B at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2013


and, uh, super-obvious but since nobody has mentioned it yet... Adventure Time!
posted by Tom-B at 2:52 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fine arts: Paulo Carvalho aka Jaca (mutant twee from hell) ...represented by Choque Cultural, click Artists > Jaca
posted by Tom-B at 3:31 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin's music is my twee weakness.

Busy Doing Nothing (random kid song re-arranged)

It's My Party (Leslie Gore cover)

Leipzig (Thomas Dolby cover)

Siamese Cat Song (the one from Lady and the Tramp)

British artist Doctor Geof does some lovely twee-noir posters here in his shop. (Warning: occasional cartoonishly drawn butts.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fine Art: Janet Hill. (What percentage is twee and what percentage is haunting depends on the viewer, but her art can cut both ways.)
posted by pie ninja at 4:59 PM on December 12, 2013


How about Amelie? Also, the short-lived TV series Pushing Daisies, which I always thought of as taking place in the same universe as Amelie.
posted by mhum at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


The children's book Love you forever, like you for always.

(Intended to link to book—found this video, perhaps uploaded by some torture-porn aficionado who hates mothers and is looking to up his game.)
posted by she's not there at 8:45 PM on December 12, 2013


The webcomic Doctor Cat certainly qualifies in terms of sweetness, but it also exhibits a level of precise calculation that doesn't quite fit the aesthetic.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:01 PM on December 12, 2013


Music-wise -- I've always thought of Heavenly as the epitome of tweeness. The Pastels are very much up there too.

Yes to Tullycraft, as well -- and actually everything Sean Tollefson has done before he settled on that moniker / band applies, too.

I'd also put Ed's Redeeming Qualities out there -- especially their first album ("More Bad Times"), which is old enough ('80s) that it would probably qualify as "proto-twee". Extremely whimsical at times but definitely not self-consciously so. And proof that twee can coexist with actual emotional depth: their song "Camouflage" is both heartbreaking and, er, glockenspiel-driven.

Then there are the self-consciously twee bands, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, the Clientele, and the various musical descendents of Morrissey... nice enough to listen to, but in large doses begins to feel a little curdled to me.

A bit of free-associating (twee-associating?) on bands I remember from the last twenty years or so that I would consider mostly on 'the good side of twee' -- Cub, Velocity Girl, Small Factory, the Crabs, maybe the Pooh Sticks, Clem Snide, the Bats (and separately the Fruitbats), Apples in Stereo, the Aislers Set...

Or you could just arm yourself with the lyrics to Tullycraft's "Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid To Know About" and hit up whatever passes for a used CD store these days.
posted by sesquipedalia at 10:48 PM on December 12, 2013


For art, you might also want to consider this recent FPP about Rachel Maclean.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:57 AM on December 13, 2013


Mentioned in the Pitchfork article, but bears repeating: Tiger Trap.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:39 AM on December 13, 2013


Carly Rae Jepsen, The Roots, and Jimmy Fallon doing "Call Me Maybe" on classroom instruments.
posted by sweetkid at 3:03 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


If that article on twee culture in Pitchfork is your thing, you might also want to find a copy of Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life and read the chapter on Beat Happening.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:03 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joe Meno's The Boy Detective Fails & Office Girl.
posted by moons in june at 9:07 AM on January 31


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