Total Dust

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When many artists embark on solo or side projects, they end up making music that sounds only slightly different than their main body of work. Not so for Brian Borcherdt, whose mellow, not especially electronic ramblings on Dusted's debut album, Total Dust, may come as a surprise to listeners familiar only with his work in the dance-rock duo Holy Fuck. With producer Leon Taheny, Borcherdt gets as far away from Holy Fuck as quickly as possible: "All Comes Down" opens Total Dust with bittersweet, lo-fi musings that nod not only to his solo efforts like his 2008 album Coyotes, but also to his time in By Divine Right, an early-2000s act that also featured Leslie Feist and Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning. Total Dust isn't a rehash, though; even as it evokes Borcherdt's past, as well as Neil Young's rustic yearning on "Pale Light" and Youth Lagoon's longing on "Bruises," it never feels overly nostalgic. Instead, a philosophical poignancy, an understanding that everything ends, runs through the album's best moments, such as "Long It Lasts" and "(Into The) Atmosphere," heightened by Dusted's artful layering of rough and polished sounds. Similarly, there's an edge to the duo's simple melodies that keeps more earnest tracks like "Cut Them Free" from seeming saccharine and allows more rocking tracks such as "Property Lines" to fit in with the rest of the album. While a few of Total Dust's later tracks tend to blend together a bit, the album is never less than pretty and sincere, and it's always nice to hear artists like Borcherdt prove they can do several styles of music equally well.

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