Luster Dust is a shoegaze/dream pop outfit from Ontario, Toronto that recently released their self-titled debut album in 2021. This eight track collection sets up a haze of complex textures and ethereal soundscapes with a strong garage rock edge. For fans of classic shoegaze and spine-chilling pop, bands like Cathedral Bells, Peel Dream Magazine and Beach House have been keeping the sound alive and it’s nice to discover a strong new act coming into the fold.
Luster Dust just oozes with confidence in their first offering. Opening track “Luster Dust Theme” feels wide and larger-than-life, setting up the tone and atmosphere that doesn’t falter to the end of this eight-track. From the first song alone we’re taken to a journey of epic proportions, with a sound that evokes wonder, and with lyrics chanted with uplifting vigor. It’s one of those strong starts that lets you know you’re in for a ride.
Following track “Your Hand” feels just as strong as the previous one, with sharp arpeggios and grainy synths that dominate the track. This motif is hovered over by reverb-soaked vocals that seemingly reach out to you as the singer glides over, seeking to have “your hand in mine.”
One thing I’ve noticed is how Luster Dust prefers these harsh noise textures over the soft glimmering tones that some other acts prefer. For someone used to rock and relatively uninitiated in the canon of shoegaze, this used to feel unnerving to me. It’s not really something I would consider as ‘dreamy’ or something that would pull me into a state of hypnosis. The band’s use of this however has swayed me towards the idea. From the panning of vocals in “Sweater” against its screeching riffs that microtonally fluctuate, to the thorny blossoms and kaleidoscopic effects of “Little Sting”, I’ve slowly opened up to the idea that despite its perceived harshness, these are ultimately songs that can uplift and transcend pain.
Yet Luster Dust is not as one-note as I may have described it to be. “Bones” has a slow rhythmic groove that reminds me of the 80’s soft rock hits from Genesis. “Someone Special” has a deeply nostalgic emotional core and ending song “Deep Cover” is a sweet dance-pop tune with an effervescent twist.
Shoegaze has always been an enigmatic genre. The pedals and effects wizardry present in Luster Dust can leave a master wordsmith grasping for phrases to describe the experience. Yet I can definitely say it is a wonderful one. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is definitely worth checking out.