National Dust Welcome to Utopia

Welcome to Utopia, National Dust's second release, is pleasant, but unremarkable. The competent foursome fills their respect roles as players and sound major-label ready. The sound is honest and young but does not stand out from the pack. Musically, Calgary's National Dust comes from the school of Blue Rodeo. Lyrically, however, they do not and leave little for the imagination to work on, such as "California," which lays its emotions on the table. While there are a few nice turns of phrase and wordplay, overall there is little mystery here. There can be an argument made for clarity, but when you see everything, good and bad, what is the motivation to keep listening? Sure, sometimes you don't want to spend time finding needles in haystacks, but there can be great joy in finding hidden gems in lyrics and arrangements. Unfortunately, this search came up empty this time around. (Independent)