It’s easy, in a scene as intimate as Iowa City’s, to see Goldendust as Wet Hair part two. While it’s true that Joe Heuermann walks that same line between crooning and caterwalling that Wet Hair vocalist Shawn Reed has been treading, like most of the commonalities between the two acts, similar effects are used to different ends.
From note one of Goldendust’s debut, self-titled LP, the difference should be pretty clear. I can’t think of a synth line over Wet Hair’s four years that’s as playful and as imminently earwormy as the hook for “After the Smoke Grew Thick.”
The second track, “Forever Midnight” is a late ‘80s, coke-fueled fever dream where Ian Curtis fronted New Order. Heuermann’s monotone croon doesn’t hint at the paranoia and fear of the chorus, “I know the sun should never rise again.” However, Justin Thye’s hissing, looping synth refrain, which leads back to each verse, reveals the fear and despair of a night, and probably a trip, going horribly awry. The last minute of the song could be the soundtrack to a late-night existential crisis as Heuermann repeatedly drones “forever midnight” over Thye’s ever more distorted and piercing synth lines.
The drippy, unspooling semi-dub of “Analog Frequencies” is a nice come down from “Midnight.” The third cut also introduces an almost oppressively moody and contemplative middle portion of the album. While the four-song stretch never has a weak tune, the doldrums take a bit of a toll on the listener.
However, after nearly 20 minutes languishing in the darkest, loneliest corners of Goldendust, the closing track, “Marooned,” is that much more enjoyable—even if it is all about being alone. “Marooned” is slathered with warm, bubbly synth lines and the bright, sunny high-hat-laden drum program that makes it sound more like a blissful kiss-off than the dreary, slow, painful parting of ways the lyrics actually point to.
John Schlotfelt is glad that all his East coast comrades survived Sandy and hopes you can say the same.