Review Summary: Come on Australia, you know can do better.
Love Of Diagrams are an indie-post-punk-no-wave (phew!) band from Melbourne. Absurd genre classifications aside, they signed on Matador last year and Mosaic
, their sophomore effort, was released on the same. "Good going Australia!" you say? Unfortunately, there's very little substance here worth your praise, and for that matter, your time.
The trio, led by the particularly stingy Monika Fikerle, find their feet in an angular and choppy riff driven Rock that has the possibility of being unique but sadly ends up sounding like a bargain bin imitation. Like an Electrelane on a Sonic Youth hangover, Love of Diagrams do exactly what one would expect of an angular, bass heavy act. It's sad given the fact that there are times on this record where you can see them taking an unexpected turn, but like a smarting slap on the face by some moderately hot chick you flirted with at a bar, they spill the beer and you're left wondering what all the fuss was about in the first place.
Fikerle and her band have a reasonably simple problem on their hands. On the first listen itself it is obvious that these guys (two chicks and one guy to be precise) are pretty handy at what they do, individually. But somewhere between putting them together and producing it in studio, something has definitely gone amiss. There's no collective spark that one expects from a 'band', effectively defeating the purpose of their individual faculties.
The album bobbles around in this effervescent, disjointed atmosphere and ever so often you feel like shouting "Just let go already!". Form And Function
, the album opener, crashes around for a while, promising much with furious downstrokes, muting and Sonic Youth styled riffs. But Fikerle's delivery leaves much to be desired and kills what someone like Karen O would've taken to another level altogether. Now don't get me wrong, this 'purposive nonchalance' that they try to display is though not something entirely new, it does have potential if executed with whatever little personality it can afford. At the end of the album, on the tracks All The Time
, Fikerle does throw us a line. But just as soon as they finish, takes it back faster than you could say "What, there's still two songs to go?!"
There's also much work to be done in the lyrics department. Most often, songs just go by with one or two lines being repeated over and over. "Things look better at a 100%"
and variations of the same, coupled with a few ahas is all that the song At 100%
concedes. The song Confrontation
is perhaps their most experimental and also the most refreshing. With a change of pace here and there they manage to spice up the sound, something they should have done with greater regularity on Mosaic
There are attempts to be U2-like stadium with strong verses and enough ohos and woahs to ensure a decent live response. The choppy Single Cable
is a perfect example of Fikerle trying her best to use all her writing acumen to support a strong percussion and bass line. But she just can't seem to get out of her suppressed rut and ends up sounding like Dolores 'O Riordan on anti-depressants. She does show some spark on the terribly short Double
, and whatever she does in the minute-fifty of that one song overshadows everything she's tried on the rest of the record, combined.
The lethargy that Love Of Diagrams do little to concede is their downfall. Mosaic ends up being a collection of what-could-have-beens driving home a very strong get-your-act-together message to the Aussie trio. "What was I supposed to do?"
cries Fikerle on the flaky album closer. Try.