Lightning Dust

The Black Mountain Army are proving to be nothing if not consistent. Since releasing Black Mountain's barn-storming In The Future in 2008, the contributors have been working steadily through their alter egos - with Pinkmountaintops putting out the excellent Outside Love and now alumni Amber Webber and Joshua Wells releasing a second album under the Lightning Dust moniker. I'm expecting a breakthrough album from Blood Meridian next.

Webber's contribution to Black Mountain is not to be over-looked, with her sultry vocals pulling the band back from the brink of parody and adding a mournful sound to the mix. Her vocals also supplied some of the highlights on Outside Love - and she was sorely missed on the supporting tour. With Lightning Dust however, Webber is firmly centre stage - taking on the majority of the writing, as well as guitar and 95% of the vocals.

Where the self titled debut was spare and sultry, Infinite Light is a more filled out and polished affair - much like the latest albums from the previously mentioned strands - and that extra push pays out rich rewards. Where Lightning Dust occasionally strained or became just too sparse, Inifinte Light sweeps and soars, showing a much wider range. Opener Antonia Jane is a country-tinged affair, obligitary lead-free-download I Knew adds some catchy low-key disco electronics and is notable for Well's superb drumming, while the piano-led The Times even threatens to become a sing-a-long. There are mysterious synthesizers and luscious strings, which all add up to a strangely epic vibe - for what is still essentially a small, self-contained record. There's a consistency and clarity here that would make a perfect soundtrack, probably to a modern day western or double crossin' film noir.

That 5% of the vocals that Webber doesn't cover is where this album loses it's half star - momentarily slipping towards that musical theatre vibe as the male vocals intrude on Honest Man. So while the variations are welcome to a certain extent, it's still the mournful voice of Webber that scores the highlights here - leading us effortlessly through the swell of History, the pounding balladry of Wondering What Everyone Knows or the flawless closer Take It Home, which perfectly sums up everything good about this excellent band. Great drums, moody bass, strings that could go on forever and a soaring, epic vocal performance that will put shivers down your spine.

Unmissable.