At the end of last year we had a listen to Phantom Power, the first offering off the new Diagrams record. At the end of last month, the album, Chromatics, was released in full – you can check it out in full here, where The Guardian are streaming it. Sam Genders, better known under his moniker of Diagrams, leaves a notable impression with his left field pop music. After his debut album in 2012, Black Light, he developed his sound to bring it closer to home. “Relationships are a constant thread. In all their frustrating, exciting, mundane, beautiful, wonderful, sexy, scary glory,” reveals Genders of the album’s themes. “And there’s lots of hope in the songs. They shouldn’t be taken too literally mind you… in my head Chromatics is life in Technicolor; with all its ups and downs.”
Opening Phantom Power neatly sets the tone of the record – instrumental taking the backseat to synthesisers and powerful vocals, with a Noah And The Whale-esque hint of joy creeping into the melodies. Moving onto Gentle Morning Song, a hint of melancholy dances around the edge of the music and winds itself into the lyricism, with calmly delivered, “the world isn’t waiting for us anymore / not like when we were young” fitting sublimely with the gentle and soft-around-the-edges instrumental.
Desolation continues the fantastic lyricism, before title track Chromatics takes on a lullaby slant to weave into the music – if a song could sound like a sunny spring evening, this would be the perfect example of one. Optimistic and consoling You Can Talk To Me brims with happiness and reassuring lyrics, with “things are sure to change / keep yourself afloat till then” sure to inspire hope in many. Laid back Shapes contrasts the stand out Dirty Broken Bliss – perfect single material, the guitar takes forefront to dominate the track. A personal favourite for the enthusiasm and happiness every line is laced with.
Over five minute Brain makes another intense piece, melancholy and atmospheric once again with optimism doing its best to persist through, before closing Just A Hair’s Breadth winds things up in the best way – with understated elegance and control. From start to finish, there’s a masterful control in the music, and it’s one of those albums that works best in one listen, though every song could stand on its own two feet. It is too early for summer-y synth pop? No, I don’t think so.
Sam can be caught live at the following dates:
Wed 25 MANCHESTER Ruby Lounge
Thu 26 BRISTOL Lantern
Wed 04 LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Thu 05 LONDON Hoxton Bar & Kitchen