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
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.