Steve Burns

Songs for Dust Mites

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On his debut album, Songs for Dust Mites, Steve Burns, better known as Steve from Blue's Clues, teams up with an all-star backing band and production team that includes Dave Fridmann and the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd. Occasionally, Fridmann's lush, polished production and Drozd's distinctive drumming overshadow Burns' music; "Troposphere" is bright and bouncy, a soft explosion that recalls the Lips' "Fight Test," and the pianos and synths on "A Song for Dustmites" attempt to inflate the song into something it's not. All things considered, though, this is Burns' album, full of fragile, whimsical songs like "Mighty Little Man," the tale of an everyday superhero, and "What I Do on Saturday," a playful pop song. Songs for Dust Mites reveals Burns as more of a straightforward singer/songwriter than his influences and collaborators, and the album's quietest tracks are the most distinctive. "1>" is a clever look at a dysfunctional relationship; "Stick Around" is understated and melancholy, recalling the brokenhearted urban folk of Beck's Sea Change; and "A Reason"'s delicately plucked guitars and subtle percussion are a deceptively gentle foil for some cutting lyrics ("I need a reason/To see you again/I need a reason/Let's not be friends"). On songs like "Maintain," Burns occasionally dips into more mainstream territory, but for every song like that on the album, there's a track like the self-deprecating cut-n-paste pop of "A Snivelling Mess." Throughout the album, though, an endearing earnestness comes through, which may or may not belie his years working in children's television. A promising debut, Songs for Dust Mites is a good-natured collection of atmospheric pop that takes a few chances now and then.

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