Margot & the Nuclear So and So's - The Dust of Retreat

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
The Dust of Retreat


First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2006, Volume 13, #9

Written by John Metzger


Digital downloads combined with iPod portability have caused a seismic shift within the music business, and the tenuous balance between commerce and art is once again out of alignment. Placing an emphasis upon singles rather than albums, the industry essentially has returned to treating artists as disposable commodities, and although major acts that still are pushing platters by the truckload have been able to retain at least some control over their final products, lesser known outfits such as Margot & the Nuclear So and Soís have been forced to make concessions in order to gain greater exposure. Originally issued in 2005, the groupís debut The Dust of Retreat has been remastered and resequenced, presumably to move the potential hit single Skeleton Key a little closer to the top of its running order. While the alterations hardly strike a fatal blow to the set, they do have the unfortunate effect of upsetting the outingís natural flow.

Nevertheless, it isnít the front half of The Dust of Retreat that suffers. Instead, Skeleton Keyís affable melody, which is akin to the soaring folk-pop of Travis, succeeds ó better than the Smashing Pumpkins-infused On a Freezing Chicago Street ó in lifting the album out of the lovely doldrums conjured by A Sea Chanty of Sorts. Its bittersweet beauty also pairs perfectly with the Beatle-esque swing of Vampires in Blue Dresses as well as the Cure-drenched atmospherics of Quiet as a Mouse. The problems, however, creep in during the other eight tracks on the effort largely because, save for the warmly shimmering chamber pop of Bookworm and the delicately spellbinding sorrow of A Light on a Hill, none of them are nearly as attention grabbing ó or as good ó as the opening quartet of tunes. Essentially, while the faults that lie at the core of The Dust of Retreat always have been there, they now are more readily apparent. Although the outing remains a remarkably ambitious and utterly promising debut, the magnification of its unevenness tempers the enthusiasm that is generated by its initial refrains. starstarstar


Of Further Interest...

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife

Matt Pond PA - The Green Fury

Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk / self-titled


The Dust of Retreat is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box