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Album Review: Lightning Dust – ‘Fantasy’

Boy-girl duo Josh Wells and Amber Webber have combined ethereal, dream-like folk with experimental pop to create their third release, Fantasy. Metrical clicks and padded synths glide beneath lachrymose, earnest lyrics on album opener ‘Diamond’. As the melody drones beneath a harmonised sentimentality, it tells the tale of a sorrowful relationship with a poetic beauty – a beauty that resonates throughout the record through Lightning Dust’s really, really great songwriting.

Synths bloom and recede with a natural life-force on ‘Reckless and Wild’, whilst a repetitive ticking adds further depth to already reflective lyrics. Similarly, precise measured ticks and plucks drive the beat beneath ‘Mirror’, as a plaintive cry of “paper thin walls” gives way to a twanging electro rhythm that rises and falls like breathing lungs. ‘Moon’ is a sombre, quiet affair that opens with a plucked, acoustic guitar and leads you down pathways of self-exploration in Webber’s memory. Following the first verse, a deep, low drone prompts the development of lethargic, sullen instruments that tenderly resonate in the distance.

The more upbeat ‘Fire Me Up’ offers a nostalgic reminder of a distinctly 80s sound. Add in some staccato synths and a drum to pound its way towards an inspiring crescendo, and you’re left bopping away in a weird jiving motion you swore you’d never do again and singing along to words you think you know but probably don’t. ‘Loaded Gun’, on the other hand, is sinister as the title suggests. A doom-laden synth slaps the intro to life, an introduction that wobbles and shudders with a paranoia throughout the rest of the song, with only occasional moments of wailing that spurt out unexpectedly to ease the anxiety.

‘In The City Tonight’ offers an affecting awareness of movement, thought and feeling. Muddled layers of sound are arranged in such a way that reflects the effect of the city on a person, the person on the city. A wistful cello intermission creates an atmosphere of desolation and exhaustion that closes the song with an ominous piano chord that lingers into the beginning of the next track. ‘Fire, Flesh and Bone’ incorporates bass synths, vibrato echoes and feeble, weary vocals to develop a melodic air of life – the body’s rhythms, the heart’s experiences, and the soul’s passions. In spite of the sparse instrumentation, the incredible symbolism makes for a deep and thoughtful atmosphere.

The spectral and ghostly ‘Agatha’ unites cellos and violins, synths and pianos with mournful, echoing vocals. It’s a minimal, tear-jerking ballad that hangs in a fragile moment of hauntingly candid emotion. Closing the album with an airy, floating combination of darkness, light, grief and hope, ‘Never Again’ stands determined like a flag on a hill – blown by the winds, but defiant and immovable. Collectively, the elegant simplicity and focused, raw rhythms keep the record from becoming too sullen or sweet. Fantasy has just the right amount of lovely to save the impact of poignant lyrics from becoming overpowering. It’s an album you can drift through in a dream-like haze, not quite anywhere definable but certainly somewhere, a place of sublime reassurance – a place of fantasy.

Fantasy is available now on Jagjaguwar.

- Charlie Clarkson


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