There are only a few pop albums I can think of—like Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and Roxy Music's Avalon—that are profoundly joyous in attitude and construction, yet still succeed in haunting the listener throughout with the sad realization that, ultimately, we're just dust for the universe to brush away.
Maybe our brief lives shouldn't be suffused with melancholy, which I gather is the bittersweet point of French minimalist composer Yann Tiersen's sixth studio pop-music effort, Dust Lane, a lovely, post-rock-tinged, eight-song meditation on mortality and its intrinsic grief and ecstasy.
The title track alone is worth the price of admission, beginning with rainy-day acoustic guitar arpeggios, and then building upon layers of piano, organ and chamber strings à la Godspeed You! Black Emperor, until ultimately revealing a full-on choir. Whereas most avant-garde music dwells on the murky, pessimistic side of the spectrum, Dust Lane takes you into a heartfelt, transcendent direction, as on the tribal, drum-circle-gone-happily-awry dance-rock of "Palestine" and the Andrew Lloyd Webber-meets-The Polyphonic Spree anthem of "Till the End."
But it's the final, banjo-powered lust-song duet with Gaëlle Kerrien, "Fuck Me," that sums up why we're here, why we should be grateful for these final moments before oblivion.
Tiersen has conjured comparisons to the greatest, most-romantic rock albums.