In my review of Showtime’s Lisa Kudrow vehicle Web Therapy, I mentioned that the worst piece of advice I ever received was from a well-intentioned but misguided friend who told me that “feelings are just chemicals.” Amber Webber, one half of Canadian duo Lightning Dust, must have received similar false comfort from a friend, but actually bought it hook, line, and sinker: “Whisper to me that you’ve had enough/Apologize that you’re not in love/If it’s just the chemicals in our brains/Stop, stay,” she pleads on “Diamond,” the opening track of the band’s latest album, Fantasy.
Webber makes similar such laments about fading love throughout the album in a quivering, reverb-cloaked vibrato backed by sparse, minimalist arrangements of ominous, creeping synths, Wurlitzer, and occasional acoustic guitar. Partner Joshua Wells’s soundscapes, a departure from the more organic productions on Lightning Dust’s two previous albums, would fit perfectly on the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, or in the case of the album’s hushed closing anthem, “Never Again,” a John Carpenter movie.
Lightning is something fierce and electric, while dust is soft and light. So it makes sense that, musically, Lightning Dust trades in both styles, but rather than shift back and forth in mood and tone like previous efforts, Fantasy is surprisingly coherent. Even the largely acoustic “Moon” feels like a seamless inclusion. It isn’t just texture and atmosphere though: The hooks are memorable and often mesmerizing, like on the spacey “Fire, Flesh and Bone” and the enchanting penultimate ballad “Agatha.” If the songs on the first half of Fantasy trigger the chemicals in your brain, the captivating tracks that comprise the second half implore you to submit to them completely.