One of the first sounds youll hear on Fantasy, the third LP from Lightning Dust’s Amber Webber and Joshua Wells, is that of acceleration. Beneath the up-tempo beats and plush synths of lead single Diamond, youll find a second-long loop that evokes a spaceship as it eases into warp speed. Its a fitting sample, one that announces the bands immersion in space-age sonics as it forecasts the albums propulsive undercurrents. Fantasy is a quiet record, yes, but Webbers voice commands urgency, even when her traditionally lush vibrato dips into disaffection.
Love stains, she croons on Diamond, lamenting with equal parts melancholy and wry resignation the butterflies she so keenly felt on 2009s Infinite Light. And that wryness is key to Fantasys aesthetic; Webber indulges her passions carefully on this record, all but excising the quivering warbles of her past recordings. And Wells instrumentation is no different. Like Majical Cloudz did earlier this year on the excellent Impersonator, Lightning Dust strips its songs bare, introducing each beat, pluck, or synth like an honored guest.
Nowhere is this style more affecting than on Agatha, where Webbers aching voice soars over sparse Wurlitzer piano and maudlin strings that collapse into dissonance by songs end. Moon is another minimalist masterpiece, curating the sole opportunity for Webbers acoustic axe to take center stage. Alternately, tracks like the Oblivion-aping Fire Me Up belong beneath the disco ball, as does Loaded Gun, which wears its debt to Filters Hey Man, Nice Shot on its sleeve.
If Infinite Light found Lightning Dust attempting to scrub off the campfire smell of its self-titled predecessor, Fantasy finds them thoroughly disinfected. Its a fresh sound, if a smidge antiseptic, with its disaffected, synth-slathered melancholy evoking a neon-streaked dance floor where everyone wears party hats ironicallyits striking, sure, but, ultimately, its no place for humans.
Essential Tracks: “Agatha”, “Moon”