One of the first sounds you’ll 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”, you’ll find a second-long loop that evokes a spaceship as it eases into warp speed. It’s a fitting sample, one that announces the band’s immersion in space-age sonics as it forecasts the album’s propulsive undercurrents. Fantasy is a quiet record, yes, but Webber’s 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 2009’s Infinite Light. And that wryness is key to Fantasy’s 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 Webber’s aching voice soars over sparse Wurlitzer piano and maudlin strings that collapse into dissonance by song’s end. “Moon” is another minimalist masterpiece, curating the sole opportunity for Webber’s 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 Filter’s “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. It’s a fresh sound, if a smidge antiseptic, with its disaffected, synth-slathered melancholy evoking a neon-streaked dance floor where everyone wears party hats ironically—it’s striking, sure, but, ultimately, it’s no place for humans.
Essential Tracks: “Agatha”, “Moon”