Aug 19, 2013 Web Exclusive
After releasing their debut single "Born Again" in 2012, DIANA (Carmen Elle, Paul Mathew, Kieran Adams, and Joseph Shabason) got slapped with the descriptor "indie Sade," which is as good a place as any to start describing their impeccably-constructed tunes. But it's just that—a start. Sure, they're smooth operators, but the Toronto, Canada-based quintet pack a fair amount of unexpected twists and turns into their silky songs of love, lust, and loss. Three minutes into opening track "Foreign Installation," a spiky, minute-long guitar solo shreds any comparisons to Sade and her ilk. If DIANA were a person (rather than a collection of likeminded musicians with a taste for AM Gold, yacht rock synths, and pastel artwork) she'd be much more rough around the edges than the silky R&B songstress—a musical manic pixie dream girl with a taste for denim, liquor, and heartache.
Featuring eight songs of disco/pop haze laced with longing and Dan Bejar-approved horns (Shabason moonlights as Destroyer's saxophonist), the band's debut album Perpetual Surrender is packed full of earworm elements that, in another era, we all had to use the phrase "guilty pleasures" to describe. There are significantly more factors at work here than mere nostalgia or a desire to beat Gayngs in the soft rock arms race. With no designs on being 2013's answer to 10cc, DIANA constantly throw their high-gloss composition off-kilter: extended ambient passages ("Perpetual Surrender"), running Elle's breathy coos through a light chillwave filter ("Anna"), or breaking them up into complete digital abstraction altogether ("New House"). It's an odd assemblage, but it succeeds at putting DIANA into a rare league—a band poised to not only meet expectations head on, but to exceed them. (www.facebook.com/DianaSound)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 10/10