Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt has been working as an alt-country rocker for some years, recently forming Dusted with producer Leon Taheny (Final Fantasy, Rituals). Their debut LP, Total Dust, pairs Borcherdt’s twin sensibilities, combining haunting melodies with a simple, folksy vibe, for spellbinding results.
“Pale Light” matches Borcherdt’s vocals with the echo of an enormous, lonesome guitar, creating an effect that enhances both parts without ever making either sound less desolate. The aided drum machine beat adds a nice groove to the track, once more without upsetting the song’s emotionality, demonstrating a consistency that even some more seasoned outfits haven’t mastered.
While similar to the preceding song, “(Into The) Atmosphere” has a much more joyous, lively energy. Between the distorted “ooh and aww” vocals and that hybrid guitar, tweaked heavily by various effects yet still sweet and summery, it’s evocative and effervescent without falling victim to bland songwriting standbys. More than mere consistency, it demonstrates the importance and scope of the band’s musical choices.
Later tracks, specifically “Cut Them Free” and “Long It Lasts”, display what the band can do if they mute themselves oh-so slightly. The latter takes the giant-sized appeal of the previous tracks, and then shrinks and stuffs it into the confines of a “pop-rock” song. The end result is quaint, with joyous, wailing vocals sounding more approachable, along with the chug of a distorted guitar that’s easily digested.
The album’s sneaky hit comes in the perpetually poppier “Cut Them Free”. Here, all those extra strands/layers of noise are stripped to their absolute core, leaving only the rumble of an electric guitar and vocals akin to some Shins-esque alt-pop ballad. Even at their most essential, the band hasn’t lost anything, replacing the noisy appeal with an understated, yet profound chorus and shimmery pop transcendence.
Dusted may not be their day jobs, but both men have shown a clear ease and commitment to the act from note one. Fans of Holy Fuck might opt out, but Borcherdt’s definitely got himself one hell of a career away from his musical brothers.
Essential Tracks: “(Into The) Atmosphere”, “Cut Them Free”