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Rustie: Glass Swords (Warp)

Russell Whyte’s first full-length as Rustie, I imagine, was a bit of a cross to bear after the hype that’s accrued from his several EPs and split singles since his first appearance in 2007. He jumped small labels until he landed a spot with Warp to release the bombastic Sunburst EP last year, a pretty apt tonesetter for the full-length that followed almost a year later. Glass Swords is grand, charming, goofy and epic all at once. There’s a lightness to some of this material that is vibrant and playful, particularly on the scorching Steve Winwood synth impersonation on the aptly named “Flash Back.” Linn drums are sprinkled throughout the album, giving it an 80s throwback that feels sincere and not ironic, a nice complement to some of the trendier gestures like the dubstep halfbeat and syncopated garage chords, often revoiced in ways that sound like a bridge between past and present. The Seinfeld-esque slap bass of “Hover Traps” is so goofy but the track evolves into something that’s difficult to not smile at. The center of the album highlights some of Rustie’s spazzier, more dense style (comparable to some of Sunburst), with “Globes” brimming with cascading percussion and synth flourishes and “Cry Flames” focused around a pitched up vocal hook and a sprawling synth solo. But some of the finest moments on Glass Swords are when he lets pop songs just be what they will, like the rousing groove of “Surph” or the bouncy “All Nite” which reprises the Winwood-esque synth lead. My personal favorite is probably the closing track, “Crystal Echo,” which seems to combine all of these elements to end on a high note, with a cute pitched up vocal sample punctuating a joyous uptempo number characterized by square arps and anthemic chords at a fast clip. I like that the album feels somewhat smoothed out and less dense than the EP that preceded, and its sense of humor, lightness and spirit is really what carries it for me. His exuberance will take him far, and Glass Swords is just one example hopefully in a series to follow.

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