Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
The Dust of Retreat


2.0
poor

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
April 11th, 2010 | 151 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Unceasingly contrived and self-aggrandizing to the point of unlistenability.

Every album has some sort of backstory. Be it the inspiration, feuds, or prominent experiences, music -being the creative outlet it is- derives from some sort of entity. Often this aspect’s presence, to the artists chagrin or intention, can be felt in the accompanying work. As is the case with Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s The Dust of Retreat. A few 20-something indie-music enthusiasts gathered in the outskirts of Indianapolis to create The Dust of Retreat. Now, if you’ve never been to this area of the world, then you’ve never seen boredom manifested in a landscape. The area surrounding Indianapolis is about as lifeless as my eyes have seen. Simply put, these scarf-adorned young men weren’t living in cramped quarters together for joyous times, they were gathered there to create a deep, moving experience in the form of an indie album.

Taking hints from dredg, Arcade Fire, and The Decemberists, to name a few, Margot set out to explore a vessel upon which they could communicate their complex array of well-read ideas and complicated emotions. It all went downhill from there. Back to the idea of an album being a product of the conditions in which it was created, The Dust of Retreat serves as a perfect example of this, and ultimately this is where the downfall lies. You would be hard-pressed to find an album as self-important. The Dust of Retreat simply bathes in the dirty water it creates for itself through ceaseless contrived emotional waste. Rather than bolster the music through more enticing music, Margot stands idly by as simple chord progressions clutter the music, letting the supposed “emotion” or at times “weirdness” speak for itself. It can’t.

It’s this self-aggrandizing nature to The Dust of Retreat that leads it into a dead end (and strangles it to death with the latest retro sweater from Urban Outfitters nonetheless). The entire ordeal gives off an air of contrived depth that simply isn’t there. The fact that it feels so incredibly forced is the icing on the cake. The song-writing is extremely inoffensive, but Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s balance this out with “weird” parts, like the song “Paper Kitten Nightmare,” where the lead vocalist coos ”mee-ows” for the majority of the lyrical content. The Dust of Retreat contains a few impressive songs in “Quiet As A Mouse” and “Skeleton Key.” On the other hand, the convoluted and, as Pitchfork Media eloquently added, “melancholy, self-important slog that mistakes insufferable earnestness for actual emotion,” drowns itself with contrived meaning.

Be it an obscure literary reference (“On a Freezing Chicago Street”) or personal experiences with adultery (“Skeleton Key”), The Dust of Retreat falls flat on its face after repeat listens. The insincerity of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s feels apparent, making it impossible to take this piece simply, or at “face-value.” When the band gathered in the Indianapolis outskirts, all signs from The Dust of Retreat indicate that the band had their sights set on creating the next big underground cult classic, chocked full of emotion, overflowing with indie cred. Instead, The Dust of Retreat is a colossal let down in the sense that Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, from the album cover to the music to their band name, are entirely orchestrated in creating an atmosphere of faux-emotion, faux-significance. The Dust of Retreat, almost masturbatory in its constitution from all the the self-aggrandizing glory, can’t withstand the weight of this misstep, and falls down into the abyss because of it.



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user ratings (134)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Bitstream (5)
Stunning on every front, this is aesthetics put into sound, creating human feeling behind every song...

sean q (4.5)
I did a sick, sick thing to my love....


Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments



This is more-or-less an ode to the recently deceased account Michael Jordan. Thanks for the inspiration.

Yes, I realize that the review itself falls victim to the very thing the I criticize the music for.

No, like I said, I found it impossible to take it simply or at face-value (at first it was great!) after many listens.

I don’t know what to think about the quality of this review, but I had a better time writing it than I do most reviews and I
REALLY needed to review something negatively... might do a few more here actually.

Kitsch got it right.

Waior
April 11th 2010


11461 Comments


I haven't read anything of yours in months and I'm pretty stoked at how much you've progressed; this is a terrific
review.

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


thanks Waior! that's really nice to hear, coming from you!

Romulus
April 11th 2010


8447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man I should've taken your advice and just gone shopping or played checkers or something.

It's a good review though cause I understand what you're getting at (I pos'd btw just adding that)

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


haha... sincerely sorry to spoil your night Romulus... ps I really did like your review of this!

americanmusicmachine
April 11th 2010


3953 Comments


great review, sounds like something i woulda loved 2 years ago

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


thanks, I know it's a tad more... idk, conceptual? than most reviews, but I figured this already had 3 reviews describing the music well, in a positive light.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 11th 2010


17944 Comments


some of your criticisms are pretty dumb

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


which ones?

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 11th 2010


17944 Comments


like, all of them

it's just a dumb way to review an album. the whole premise of your writing is acting like you were there when they wrote and recorded the music, when you weren't. you talk about what they set out to do, what they were trying to accomplish, like you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're right.

i dunno, i just don't get that "self-masturbatory" vibe from this band at all. i'm not saying you're wrong to think that, but the way you presented it is pretty lame and works against what you were trying to do i think.

Yazz_Flute
April 11th 2010


18855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't find the song-writing forced in the slightest. And maybe it does sound contrived at times, but you can't prove that they
set out to "attempt" to make it as contrived as possible. It all seems sincere to me.

But this was a good read, if I didn't already love the album this probably would have made me avoid it.

Damn Chan beat me to it it looks.

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


nah, I kinda agree chan... I really struggled with communicating my impression that everything on here, like EVERYthing, just feels like calculated and insincere. Oh, and I really tried to stray away from the "intentions of the band" thing but I know I fell victim to that a little.


negative reviews aren't my thing, really... "4" reviews are SO much easier

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


I can't prove anything, it all seems a little fishy to me though

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 11th 2010


17944 Comments


no, like, there's nothing wrong with your criticisms but you just presented them in a way that makes you sound like kind of an asshole, no offense

Yazz_Flute
April 11th 2010


18855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's a conspiracy.

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


chan: that's honestly more or less what I was going for... my dislike of this album makes me feel like an asshole. I wish I could just take it simpler like I do with a lot of music and enjoy it, but it really irks me. oh well, thanks for reading.

SeaAnemone
April 11th 2010


20834 Comments


plus, I was just in the mood for something different, ALL my recent reviews have been so celebratory and positive.

Romulus
April 11th 2010


8447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

my dislike of this album makes me feel like an asshole


This made me lol. In a good way though.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 11th 2010


17944 Comments


you should really check out their album Not Animal if you haven't. it's really good and you might like that one.

EVedder27
April 11th 2010


6088 Comments


Awesome review Eric. I'm glad you wrote this before I checked this out since I have a feeling I will love it.



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