The PinkDustMuteMath's Roy Mitchell-Cardenas teams up with Cliff Littlefield on a side-ptoject filled with bouncy alt-pop that takes you from the sixties to right now...

The Pink Dust
Artist: The Pink Dust
Time: 10 tracks / 42:49

The self-titled debut by The Pink Dust opens with a half-minute of what could be a lead-in to a modern fusion epic. Instead we get a bona fide pop song combining melodic elements of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day" with a chorus that conjures up rhythmic memories of "Sympathy For The Devil," and a lyrical tip of the hat to Walt Disney ("It's the truth's actual – everything is satisfactual."). As if these psychic artifacts weren't enough, the title, "Coming Up," is the same as one of Paul McCartney's most commercial hits. The Pink Dust is almost an audio deja-vu, only without that feeling like you can predict what happens next. In fact, that's the fun part – you can't.

The Pink Dust is essentially the duo of singer-songwriter Cliff Littlefield and MuteMath's bass player / writer / multi-instrumentalist and co-conspirator Roy Mitchell-Cardenas. The two former college friends, along with Plastic Planets' drummer, Jeffrey Alan Wright, are responsible for all of the music you hear on this project – an eclectic mix of British Invasion pop, pre-psychedelia, new wave and alternative.

Littlefield's vocals recall a more innocent era of pop music although the lyrics he's singing have an underlying darker tone. "Green Eyes" have enough bounce and melodic potential to imagine a Beach Boys treatment but the complicated emotions of the lyrics are a far cry from 'I wish they all could be California girls.' The listener familiar with MuteMath will immediately pick up certain sounds associated with the band while admiring the complexity and seamlessness of Mitchell-Cardenas' one-man-band abilities.

If this was an old-school vinyl LP, you'd turn it over to side two and start off with "Forget Me Not," which references both Axl Rose and Cheap Trick in the lyrics of what sounds like a somewhat frustrating love affair ("Chasing you around the town, up and down my block – Love me, forget me not..."). The track ends with a textbook perfect 70s fade on the chorus - that, and little touches like the tambourine work in the production, make the album sound almost like a collection of potential singles (do they still sell singles?).

As if to remind us that this is in fact a modern rock album, "Time Will Tell" seems to emerge from a somewhat retro style to morph into a stunning alt-funk vamp at the end, with tight drumming and writhing, evocative bass lines driving the music.

"Turn Back Home" closes the project with a more reflective, modern sound. Littlefield's voice is less processed and more human here – less affectation and more communicative. Roy shines in the closing two minutes of instrumental power, getting into a groove that MuteMath fans will eat right up.

The Pink Dust is an album that requires multiple listenings, and the more you listen the more you'll want to – again and again. Songs like "Center of The Universe" are deceptively simple at first but then become almost addictive. The album has hooks galore (remember what I said about singles?) and there's a 'bouncy' factor that makes it move along nicely. The lyrics make sense while you're hearing them sung, but get more mysterious when you listen closely – but that's often the way of good lyrics. Wright's drumming, by the way, is wonderful throughout.
The ambiance might be a bit retro but nothing sounds dusty on this project, available now at CD Baby and iTunes.

-Bert Saraco