Low vs Diamond

by: Low vs Diamond

If there's any truth to the notion that a band's sound is tied to its location, then Low vs Diamond could best be described as having an East Coast/U.K. vibe despite their West Coast roots -- on their debut album, the group touches on the bleak detachment of England's Editors, the pensive, ethereal soundscapes of Home Video, and the driving rhythms of the Bravery, both of New York. However, Low vs Diamond distinguish themselves from their contemporaries by adding their own flourishes -- a warm undercurrent infuses all of their songs, as does an airy, almost delicate atmosphere. The group's approach dabbles in both indie rock and post-punk revivalism without adhering completely to either; whether this was a calculated move or a happy coincidence is unknown, but in the end it doesn't matter. It's a combination that works, allowing them to find their own sound without deviating too much from mainstream tastes. Lucas Field's voice, with its pleasant warble, lends a light touch, but not a weak one. On "Killer B," the vocalist lands somewhere between Chris Martin and a young, swaggering Bono, with the rest of the band following suit -- guitarist Anthony Polcino, drummer Howie Diamond, and bassist Jon Pancoast combine a steady marching rhythm with understated guitar work that is reminiscent of tracks from U2's War. By the middle of the disc, Low vs Diamond open up a bit more, trading stiff beats for pensive instrumentation and bittersweet introspection. "Song We Sang Away," a tune dedicated to lost loved ones, sees most of the group's polish stripped away, exposing a tender vulnerability from Field and gentle work from the rest of the group. It's nice to see the band step away from the tense beats that make up most of Low vs Diamond, and it would have been nice to see it happen more often, as the group's incessant rhythm can grow tiring after a while. Fortunately, two numbers at the end of the album forge ahead instead of falling back on formula. The piano ballad "Annie" is short but sweet, consisting of nothing more than Field, Tad Moore, and a simple string arrangement, and segues into the musically (but not lyrically) uplifting "I'll Be," a soaring tune that takes its cues from Martin's Coldplay without sounding like a pale imitation. With it, Low vs Diamond leaves on a high note and compels listeners to engage in one more spin, one that invariably leads to many more. ~ Katherine Fulton

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