Title: Total Dust
Record Label: Polyvinyl
Total Dust starts off with a thoroughly satisfying crunchy guitar that could’ve come from the seventh floor of hell. As the chords progress, the possibilities are limitless. Soon, the falsetto vocals take the steering wheel from the sludge riffs, and drive the song to its resolution a few minutes later.
This is good shit. Some of it’s mystifyingly cheesy – there’s a ukulele breakdown of some kind in the second song – but ultimately this is a badass formula. Heavy, lo-fi guitar parts, subtle drums and romantic, delicate vocals. The lyrics are buried under a thin layer of fuzz, leaving some of the words decipherable, but this kind of music doesn’t necessarily require deeper understanding of the singer’s intention. Clearly he’s been tortured a bit, he’s been heartbroken a bit. We get the idea. He’s sad. No need to be embarrassing about it.
As a fan of the Kranky catalog, it’s easy to appreciate the drone-y aspects of the record. Being able to blend the ambience with sludge, without treading into doom metal territory, is a new trend that I’m totally OK with. Dusted’s record leans pretty hard into the soft ambient camp, and I’d like to hear them brush up with the heavy inspirations a little more; but that’s just my current fascination, and I have a feeling the duo will explore those sensations more fully as they continue to write.
To be sure, this is gentle music. You can put this on when you lay in bed with your girlfriend on Sunday morning. “If there’s silver in those clouds, then let’s bring the rain down” frontman Brian Borcherdt croons on “Bruises”. It’s annoying to dissect lyrics without their context. If I think about what he’s saying too much, it ruins the flow.
Long story short: Already good, could be greater.
Review by Will Anderson