The Aircraft, a three-piece band from Sioux Center, Iowa released their first full length album, Dust is Dust, on May 15. The indie-rock debut features a set of songs that summon a summertime spirit, ranging from earnest, higher-tempo songs that would sound quite excellent blasting on a stereo while driving down a country road to more languid-sounding dream pop that could accompany time spent idling in the shade. The album features tightly constructed songs that provide internal variation both within songs and among them. This allows for enjoyable repeat listens, as different elements move into the foreground depending on the listener’s mood or inclination.
Defying some of the bleak possibilities invoked by the titular meditation on dust, the album lyrically generates a set of matter-of-fact possibilities. The third track, “What We’re Made For,” repeats a mantra, “Wouldn’t trade today for anything,” that echoes the advice given on the next track, “Just Relax.” Often, the lyrics seem a vehicle for the vocal line, giving it a chance to ride along some of the hooks that appear within a song. This alleviates the way the vocals sometimes take a sonic backseat to the instrumentals within the mix, and sometimes are — as above, and in the final track — intoned as a mantra. There’s a sense of peace that comes in accepting this.
Another thing I appreciated about the album was its willingness to allow for sparseness — rather than overpowering the songs, each one is able to breathe and grow on its own terms. The band allows itself to be a trio and makes no attempt to overcompensate or misdirect from their core strengths. Many songs start out simply, allowing listeners to focus on individual sounds — a cymbal, strummed guitar strings, a held vocal. This sparseness allows for the interruption of new sounds, on occasion — grace notes able to carry the weight of the melody or hook, encouraging smiles.
Songs will sometimes fold up back into these basic core elements after a more raucous interlude, regenerating the possibility for appreciation. Although in true rock fashion these generally converge into a more full sound, they do so with a sense of their own pace. As a whole, the songs become internally expansive as modulations in tempo and dynamics provide an entry into an unhurried space of acceptance. The leisurely conclusion of the last song on the album — “Wake Me Up Slow” — is quite representative of this tendency.
Although the meditative quality of the album means that (unlike COVID) they’re not instantly catchy, these meaningful moments balance the more infectious elements within songs. Overall, the album is well-suited for those wearied of old playlists, and are well crafted enough to be memorable for those willing to listen on repeat.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 285.