Lookbook's Grant Cutler has a confession to make.

"I actually don't like synth-pop all that much," said the bearded, dry-witted, reformed emo-rocker.

Yet Cutler and his Lookbook partner, Maggie Morrison, were a big part of a charmed year for electronic/dance-rock music locally. In the year of Solid Gold and Owl City, the best local dance-rock album of the year was Lookbook's two-month-old "Wild at Heart." When you throw in the duo's plethora of club shows and a new remix EP they're promoting Saturday at 7th Street Entry, you could call it a breakout year.

Cutler did not mean to put down the trend he rode in on, though. Rather, Lookbook's guitarist/programmer/gadgetry-handler was trying to hold up the talents of his musical conspirator.

"Maggie's singing is very natural and her writing is very real, and I think it needs to be like that or else our music would be very tacky," he said. "In synth-pop music, there has to be something earthy about it -- or forget it. Then it's just cheese."

Previously the singer in another electronic-based band, Digitata, Morrison offers the perfect balance to Cutler's synthetic musings. She has a breathy but powerful voice and a knack for writing dark lyrics under bright pop melodies. Morrison, too, had a rather surprising confession to make last week.

"I can only write my parts of the songs when I'm driving around in a car," she confided. "That way, I don't have to worry about anyone hearing me. I can be as experimental as I want or as loud as I want, and I'm a lot less self-conscious."

For many of the tracks on "Wild at Heart," Morrison would take off from her mom's house near Madison, Wis., for long, fast drives around the farmland valleys. Those drives also gave her the time to reflect on a breakup and other messed-up relationships.

"I have a really hard time letting go in my relationships, and my personality is I don't really express myself very well in those situations," she said.

So how exactly did this duo -- with a singer who's afraid of being heard and a synth-pop musician who doesn't like synth-pop music -- even come about? Morrison, 26, hails from Eau Claire, Wis., where she hung out with the guys from Mel Gibson & the Pants, with whom she formed Digitata. Cutler, also 26, grew up in Aberdeen, S.D. He left town to study at Music Tech in St. Paul (now McNally Smith College of Music). Upon arrival, he played in a string of rock bands.

"I was listening to a lot of Prince and Phil Collins at the time," Cutler said. "When I found out I could make that kind of music by myself, I was fascinated by it. So I just started experimenting with it."

Cutler and Morrison started making music together in 2007, initially as a joke: Their first creation was a "hyper-sexual" trio called Tina Turn-on. The turning point came when Cutler challenged Morrison to craft "a serious song" around one of his demos, which would become the track "Believe the Hype" on last year's drowsier, wearier EP, "I Fear You, My Darkness."

With "Wild at Heart," the duo lightened up musically but sharpened its impact. "The Only Ones," in rotation at the Current (89.3 FM), is a "Controversy"-era Prince flashback. The CD opener, "Over and Over," sounds like an outtake from the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. And Morrison gets her Björk on vocally in the dramatic finale "Surprise."

Lookbook quickly became a known name locally, thanks to their previous acts as well as the unusual two-person setup. Said Morrison, "It's just so efficient having only two people. Touring and getting together is so easy, and we can actually supplement our income a little bit with what little money we make."

"We can get all of our gear into Maggie's Subaru, with room to spare," Cutler boasted. "In fact, we should try to get Smart Car to sponsor us."