MORGENDUST – Album Review: “Morgendust”

Morgendust is an engaging and talented Dutch alt-rock band based in Zwolle, Netherlands. Formed in 2018, the quintet is comprised of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars, drums), Ron van Kruistum (guitars, backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards, backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass, backing vocals) and recent new member Patrick Pozderski (drums & percussion). All seasoned and accomplished musicians with years of collective experience playing in other bands and as session musicians, their music has a maturity and worldliness expressed through intelligent, thoughtful lyrics that tell stories everyone can relate to, and packaged with exquisite rock melodies, outstanding instrumentation and beautiful vocals.

They released their stunning debut EP Storm Will Come in September 2019, and since then have dropped a string of excellent singles, as well as their wonderful 2022 album 14, in which they reimagined eight iconic songs from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s that had a major impact on each of the band members when they were 14 years old. I reviewed both the EP and album, as well as several of their singles, some of which you can read by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.

Now they’re back with the self-titled Morgendust, their first full-length album of all original songs, which dropped March 24th. The guys wrote, recorded, produced and financed the album all by themselves, making it a true DIY indie effort: “We wrote over 30 songs, rented an old school, stuffed it with the best gear and started recording. We had no restrictions with time, budgets or record labels telling us what to do.” Morgendust includes what they’ve deemed the 13 best tracks of the bunch, and after listening to the album, I can’t take issue with any of their selections, as they’re all solid songs that nicely showcase their signature sound and strong storytelling abilities. The album was expertly mixed by Guido Aalbers (Coldplay, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age) and flawlessly mastered by Andy VanDette (David Bowie, Deep Purple, Beastie Boys, Steven Wilson).

Many of the songs on Morgendust have a distinct 80s feel, which makes sense since most of the band members came of age in that decade. (I came of age in the early 70s, but I love a lot of 80s music.) The guys tackle a variety of topics, including oft-covered subjects like life, love and emotional well-being, but also socio-political issues of particular relevance today, as evidenced by the powerful opening track “No Clear View“. The lyrics seem to address the conundrum of social media, namely how addictive it is and how it elevates and rewards those who shout the loudest, or are the most outrageous and selfish, leaving many of us feeling disoriented or alienated: “When there is no clear view, you stumble over your shoes. There’s something out there with the size of Donald’s ego. We all want a piece of fame, and what it can or won’t do. And when our 15 minutes fade, we’ll star in fake news. There’s one thing better than no view at all, and that is no clear view. Heaven holds a place for those who waste.” Musically, the song features a strong guitar hook that instantly grabs our attention, keeping hold of it as the song’s melody and instrumentation ebb and flow.

One of my favorite tracks is “1982“, a beautiful and rousing radio-friendly anthem that Marco wrote to honor the memory of a childhood friend who suddenly disappeared. The story is set against a background of global and national political and cultural issues of that time, some of which are still topical today. Events touched upon in the song include the Falklands war and political demonstrations, the film E.T., and The Clash song “Rock the Casbah”. I love the swirling synths, driving rhythms and gorgeous guitar work, as well as the video of the guys performing the song, which shows their endearing sense of playfulness.

Those 80s vibes are particularly strong on the melodic pop-rock track “Modern Daydream“, while affairs of the heart are explored on “Would it Hurt You?“, in which Marco makes a heartfelt plea to a romantic partner to make more of an effort to salvage a troubled relationship: “Would it hurt you to try a little more?” And on “The Losing End“, the guys employ a grungier, harder rock sound with tortured psychedelic riffs, heavy bass and thunderous percussion to drive home their point about how life seems to be stacked against most of us: “All the sinners here scream away their fears. I hope you won’t forget we’re on the losing end.”

Another favorite of mine is “We Set Sail“, an exuberant anthem with a commanding foot-stomping beat, gorgeous bluesy guitars and soaring vocal harmonies. The lyrics, which Marco delivers with an arresting emotional fervor, speak of setting off on a search for a brighter future: “Grab your belongings. Take hold of your loved ones. Fight for a place in line. Face the adventure and prepare for failure. But hold on to your hearts. Chasing the clouds. If the time is right, and the spirit’s high, we’ll come out of our homes tonight. We set sail. New land is all we hope for.”

A song that particularly resonates with me from a lyrical standpoint is “The Years“, as it speaks to the inexorable passage of time and how life’s disappointments can add up: “The years will slowly get you. Months of slow decay. Weeks we’ll never see the sun. Days will wash away. The hours will crawl and turn on you. Minutes melt away. Midnight makes a new day.” After the rather bleak introspection of “The Years”, “Red Handed” comes blasting through the speakers with a barrage of roiling guitars and driving rhythms. Marco emphatically sings from the perspective of a Machiavellian figure who envisions himself as a savoir “My philosophy will save the world“, when in actually they’re an opportunistic oppressor: “Who knew my new heresy can chain the world? I’m bad enough, sad enough to blame the world. Caught red handed while I claim the world.” Sounds like some of the vile and nefarious political leaders we’ve had recently…

On the electrifying stomper “Racing the Clouds“, Morgendust sings the praises of the excitement of cities “Lights in the city, shine so bright. Life in the city at night. Clouds keep filling my head with all these sounds.” I really like how the song calms at the end with a beautiful closing piano riff. In sharp contrast, “These Shadows” sweeps in upon an eerie soundscape of menacing industrial synths and edgy distorted guitars, but then brightens with melodic piano chords in the verses, lending an optimistic vibe before the grungy guitars return in the chorus, only to fade out again. Marco passionately sings of his hope for better days ahead: “I hope for us we’ll lose our fear of all these inner storms. I pray our love won’t fade away. I hope my love. I hope for us. I hope for you these shadows disappear.”

The gospel-like “A Way Out” closes the album on a contemplative note, with hopeful lyrics about climbing out of a depressive state of mind: “I’ve tried to fill the days with love and laughs and play. I’m not there, although my heart gave me a warning, shook up my senses… I will find a way out, a way out of here.” It’s a fine ending to a superb, wide-ranging album from this very talented group of men. Morgendust have outdone themselves here, and should be immensely proud of what they’ve achieved.

Morgendust will embark on their upcoming New Land Tour ’23 starting on April 15th. Here’s the schedule:

Connect with Morgendust:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Find their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / YouTube / Bandcamp / Amazon

19 thoughts on “MORGENDUST – Album Review: “Morgendust”

  1. Thanks for yet another in-depth post for a band I’ve never heard of! Just listened to a few snippets of several songs from the new album and love it. I’ve spent some time in Amsterdam and Utrecht and the music scene there is awesome! I will definitely be listening to more very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m completely new to Morgendust and my initial impression is favorable. They have an impressive sound you normally don’t associate with DIY. I also listened into some of the tracks on their covers album “14.” They made these tunes their own – not bad either!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeez, no wonder that some of these tracks sounded vaguely familiar! 🙂

        Ever since I’ve gotten back paying more attention to new music, I feel it’s nearly impossible to keep up. Even if I hear something I like during one week, the following week, I’m on to other stuff and all too quickly forget what I heard before!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sadly true that it’s impossible to keep up – not only with all the new music coming out, but also the continuous flood of submissions and requests for reviews I receive from artists & bands who follow me (not to mention all the PR reps), as well as the far too many blogs I follow!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Top 30 Songs for April 9-15, 2023 – ECLECTIC MUSIC LOVER

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