Lightning Dust Break Apart and Come Together on 'Nostalgia Killer'

BY Francis BaptistePublished Jun 12, 2023

Nostalgia Killer is a pain-soaked, sometimes soul-crushing album that fixates deeply on the end of a loving relationship. What makes it cut so deep is that the breakup involved the two people performing the songs — Amber Webber and Joshua Wells, the members of Lightning Dust, decided to separate as a couple but continue to make music together, and this new dynamic creates an intensely intimate and candid environment for these songs to bloom. 

It might be a hazardous listen for anyone who's recently gone through a breakup, as every song is painted lavishly with melancholic reflections on the end of a partnership — but in the hands of these tremendously gifted artists, it's a listen worth the tears. 

Opening track "Wrecked" is the most upbeat and defiant of the 10 tracks on the LP. When Webber's wounded voice wails through the opening mantra "I will wreck my mind but I will get it back in line," it invokes a hopeful scene of someone picking up the pieces in times of turmoil. Throughout the record's following nine tracks, the listener gets to learn in detail the realities of that turmoil.

"Rapids and Rivers" is a slow-burn, an achingly mature breakup song that perfectly captures the bittersweet mood that flows through the album, the pain and acceptance it must've taken for Webber and Wells to break up but continue their vocation side by side. Throughout Nostalgia Killer, Webber's voice climbs and dives like a lone sparrow navigating a storm, hoping to reach clearer skies; and while the storm might seem an impossible adversary, the true beauty of the sparrow's flight is in its struggle.

As the album pushes forward, the overall tone settles into a murky, desolate mood. Instrumentation strips away, percussion becomes minimal and tempos relax. Several songs have a linear structure, as if the artists don't want to look back. It's not an album of repetitive hooks and bangers — these are songs that linger, festering like wounds and opening like flowers. 

Toward the end of Nostalgia Killer, one can't help but wonder if you're listening to the end of Lightning Dust, and that ambiguity is part of what makes it such an incredibly personal and vivid piece of work — It's rare that you get a window into two artists' lives like this, and it's rarer still that it sounds this great. 
(Western Vinyl)

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