The last Gold Dust album marked a defiant departure from Stephen Pierce’s (Ampere, Kindling) roots in hardcore and shoegaze. The record sought kinship with the private press folk crowd, holing up in bedrooms wrapped with tape spools and torn shades. The volume turned down to let a tenderness seep through, cloistering itself with visions of Gary Higgins, FJ McMahon, or Ted Lucas in mind. For the follow-up, Pierce no longer leans so far away from his heavier side, but instead finds a balance between the quietude of psych-folk forms and a rising growl of shrouded n’ clouded indie. He still leans a limb into the waters of lysergic folk, but this time its the specters of Six Organs, Songs of Green Pheasant, and JOMF’s Ballads of the Revolution that loom large.
For this record he’s not alone either, coming out of isolation to let friends in on the process of shaping The Late Great Gold Dust, including a searing solo from J Mascis. After an album of shunning noise, it’s nice to find a bit of heaviness creeping into Gold Dust’s sound, a shift that evolves the outfit past homage and into a synthesis of Pierce’s past and present. The album starts out with a looming cloud of doom that dissipates but leaves behind a summer storm of amp fry, vocal fog, and, yes, a bit of shoegaze returning to the forefront. The Late Great is a glowing ember of strum glimpsed through the foliage. Pierce’s songwriting is as strong as ever, never letting the record lean on aesthetics alone, but burying quite a few hooks beneath the haze. If you missed out on the debut, its a wonderful place to start, but this may be the moment that Gold Dust comes into its own, the spark that catches hold in his catalog. Lovely stuff indeed.
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