Dag’s debut album captures a time and a place in one’s life, the kind of extended adolescence that verges on adulthood. These days that period seems to stretch well into one’s thirties. Though several of the LP’s themes are universal – isolation, loneliness, aimlessness – they take on a more significant feeling with songwriter Dusty Anastassiou’s setting his odes on the outskirts of town, far from the bustle and bright lights and further from the reach of scenes. Finding oneself aimless and alone in small town life kicks up it’s own kind of dust and offers it’s own distinct brand of hopelessness. But Anastassiou doesn’t only focus on physical isolation here, he’s picking through the human slide towards mounting digital isolation; alone in life, alone online, truly alone. The themes are pervasive on Benefits of Solitude and while that may seem like downer territory, Anastassiou treats his subjects with an air of reverence and a lack of self-pity.
Aiding to his lyrical journey is a particularly stringent brand of Aussie jangle that stands out from some of his peers’ more affable forms. While the album shares much of the self-reflection and idiosyncratic analysis of labelmates Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, it steers shy of their wit and jovial air. The underlying music wobbles between the lounge lit confessions that should attract Mac Demarco fans like flys and a sour catharsis that brings to mind RSTB favorites Wireheads. The band, in fact, includes Matt Ford who runs Wireheads’ Aussie home of Tenth Court, so it’s certainly possible that he’s picked up a bit of their curdled delivery and passed it along. Having led with single “Staying Up At Night,” gave the impression this might be a lighthearted affair, but that song winds up an outlier in deeper waters. In a strange way, though, the claustrophobic din that the band creates, winds up much more fulfilling; a hefty meal rather than just a thoughtless snack.
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