Full Time Hobby
12th Jan 2015
It remains a puzzlement to me how certain soft to soppy bands (Coldplay) annoy me, whilst others (Athlete, The Holloways) inspire affection. Diagrams are sweet of tune and gentle of lyric and hit me in the sweet spot. The first two tracks alone will tell you if they work for you. There is an affecting gift for a pop melody and regular building chorus hooks, working a similar gift to the Lightning Seeds.
Where Sam Genders’ excellent debut album (Diagrams is Sam plus whoever he chooses) didn’t travel too far from Tunng’s sonic territory, though far more up tempo than that band’s gentle electronica dream folk, this one turns up the pop dials, emphasising the melodies – though dreamy meanderings are still present on tracks like the title, Chromatics. The bleeps and burps of electronics are incidental here and the songs are less abstruse, focussing on relationships more than the dream fairy world of Tunng. There is a personal theme running throughout but avoiding the whingy persona too many singer-songwriters fall into when they get personal. Songs like You Can Talk To Me seem warm and reassuring. After an up tempo start, the album moves into more contemplative mode and explores themes around love and friendship.
I get the sense that though his songs travel similar territory to the last album, he has worked hard to take the sound further away from previous work. He claims moving to Sheffield has been instrumental in the change and I can believe that after London. Certainly he has used the other contributors well, adding to the sound shape rather than playing session parts and album, whilst shifting in tone, remains cohesive and engaging.
Currently musician in residence in Changsha in China, it’ll be interesting to see what he brings back – The Cowboy Junkies got an inspired album out of Michael Timmins spending a few months in the country.