Filled with escapism and youthful indifference, SUSTO, the self-titled debut from Charleston, South Carolina’s SUSTO was borne from singer/songwriter Justin Osborne’s travels following the break up of his former band, Sequoyah Prep School. Escapism from locales (opener “Black River Gospel”), situations (“Acid Boys”) and the realities of love (the wishful “Dream Girl”) worms its way throughout SUSTO.
I’ve been living in a paper-bag town
But I don’t want to find a good woman and settle down
I just want to ride around from town to town
Recalling early Deer Tick (“Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wine” and the gothic love tale of “Vampiro 66”) and AM-era Wilco (the swooning “Friends, Lovers, ex-Lovers, or whatever”), the greatest of SUSTO‘s many strengths is Osborne’s nuanced turns of phrase. Casually opening the standout waltz “County Line” with “Your bra tan bright in the windshield light / Your little mouth was moving just right”, Osborne paints lyrical set pieces to denote the appropriate tenor of a given song. The playing by fellow members Johnny Delaware (guitar/piano), Taylor McCleskey (drums) and Eric Mixon (bass) is never overwrought; rather, their reserved approach accents Osborne’s gruff delivery, namely on the tender conversational closing track, “Smoking Outside.”
Filled with moody, mid-tempo tributes to nocturnal wonder and wandering, SUSTO is dusky yet hides nothing in its shadows. Finely polished but deliberately raw, SUSTO is a flawlessly executed album, front to back. This is one album I’d love to hear on vinyl, thus deeming it Vinyl Worthy.
Stream/purchase SUSTO below.