As someone who A) was born in the 80s B) grew up in/reveres everything about the 90s C) had more than 3 Starter jackets (Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets), there was little doubt I was going to love Frontier Ruckus’ Eternity of Dimming. What I was not prepared for, however, is how much I actually love the thing. I’ve been a pretty big fan of the band dating back to the summer of 2008, when I was sitting alone in my final summer of the great college experiment.
Somehow, I came across their debut, The Orion Songbook, that fateful summer and became infatuated with singer Matthew Milia’s storytelling and multi-instrumentalist Davy Jones’ impeccable banjo. As someone who had never truly been into the folk movement prior, the album completely caught me by surprise. “Mount Marcy,” “The Latter Days,” and “The Blood” still send chills down my spine to this day. During that final year of school at OU and the year that followed, I played the album out to the point where I was legitimately let down by Deadmalls and Nightfalls, their sophomore followup. I couldn’t say exactly what was different, but something was off. Production value, it seemed, had displaced Milia’s voice to the point where he sounded more like the guy from Straylight Run than the lo-fi folk-singer extraordinaire I had grown accustomed.
Hard cut to 2013, nearly three years since the release of Deadmalls and Nightfalls, the band has returned with what can only be described as an utterly stunning collection of songs. Spanning two-discs (and 20 years of memories), Eternity of Dimming is the return to excellence I had been waiting for. From the moment the album starts you fully understand the journey you are about take, culminating in a complete appreciation for any and everything the band is offering (including the eerily perfect singing saw).
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes the album so incredible, other than the feeling that passes over you with each passing song. Like thinking back upon the ease and heartbreak of adolescence, just sit back and let Eternity of Dimming sweep over your mind. There is no misstep on the entire album, with “Junk-Drawer Sorrow,” “I Buried You So Deep,” “Careening Catalog Immemorial,” and the album’s title track highlighting the nearly 90 minutes of haunting, nostalgic folk music. The transitions from “Bike Trail” to “I Met Rebecca” and “In Protection of Sylvan Manor” to “Dealerships” are rare moments of beauty that I haven’t seen since Portugal. The Man’s “1989” to “Our Way.” If the wistful, chilling, and joyous experience the album offers goes down as Frontier Ruckus’ magnum opus, then the ride was worth it. Well done, sirs. Well done.