Review Summary: Yann Tiersen ventures out of the ordinary to create something extraordinary.
I assume everyone is familiar with the age-old term: “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Think of all of the great novels, movies, CDs, etc., that you would have missed out on had you prematurely judged them solely on what their casing looked like. Dust Lane
’s cover isn’t the most pleasant thing to look at and is a little misleading. A lone, old white car sits vacant with the driver’s door ajar, contrasted against a cold, dead forest enveloped in a thin orange hue. Everything about it points to isolation and the decay of something beautiful, but it’s anything but. Quite the contrary, Dust Lane
is an immensely warm album that is catchy as hell and floats atop lavish production throughout the course of 8 gorgeous songs that perform in water colors. It’s because of this that Dust Lane
ends up being one of Yann Tiersen’s most divisive works to date.
Yann Tiersen is a classically trained French composer who’s best known for his work on the Amelie soundtrack and often accidentally regarded strictly as a composer because of his use of primarily piano and violin in a lot of his works. Dust Lane
, however, features a wide array of instruments, ie: guitar, piano, violin, harpsichord, typewriter, synthesizers, and more. It has a scope as large as his theatrical compositions, but is also a whole new sound on its own, and is nearly impossible to be pigeonholed. It blends post-rock, alternative, pop rock, indie rock, and experimental (sometimes all within the same song) so well that it makes listening to any one of these 8 tracks a pleasure, and invites a lot of replays to gorge on all of the minute details here and there that are initially difficult to pick out (there are a lot of them).
Title track “Dust Lane” is a moody, multi-layered work that reveals itself in the latter half to be a joyous and uplifting journey with an exuberant choral chant and tasteful synthesizer. It would be a sing-along if the vocals weren’t partially hidden beneath the permeating percussion and synthesizers. The proceeding track, “Dark Stuff,” is a little more of a timid and restrained track that expands on its revolving motif as it evolves into something grandiose and haunting near its end, fading away with a beautiful violin and acoustic guitar. The reasons why Dust Lane
reaches such blissful heights could also be seen as its main detractor: almost every song here builds tension and explodes in a dramatic way. It’s extremely enjoyable, but also makes the album feel a little formulaic in a sense. That said, the songs build on such elaborate structures so well that it’s hard to notice or really care too much that it’s kind of a ploy, because they have such a magnetic pull and are so easy to slip into. The most beautiful track on the album, “Till The End,” - a slice of ambiance and post-rock - even does this, just over a longer period of time. It builds more than any song on the album and at several points feels like it’s about to conclude, only to end up bringing out more instruments to expand even further, something we’re familiar seeing in a band like Sigur Ros.
While sometimes sad, most of what’s on offer throughout Dust Lane
is colorful and soaked in reverberation. From the percussive anthem quality of the post-rock “Till The End,” to the beauty of the somewhat ironic “Fuck
Me”’s emphatically happy pop-oriented nature, to the upbeat allure of title track’s glorious chant, Dust Lane
is sure to have something for everyone. Yann Tiersen has applied his vast knowledge of music to fashion a readily accessible and enchanting mastery of both restraint and release. Highly recommended for those who like M83, Sigur Ros, and Phillip Glass.
“We are boys and girls
Of the new world treading young.
We just want to find something.
We just want to lose control
Of our thoughts... Of our thoughts....