The chord progression on opener Breaking Bones feels very done at home on Garage Band. But at the 30 second mark, its clear that Diamonds and Death is no such affair. VHS or Beta‘s Craig Pfunder sings with authority; just before the two minute mark, the seal is broken and the remainder of the song is an all-out field day. Truly, very few openers hit with this much power, and the Brooklyn-via-Louisville electro-pop duo packs a punch.
And when theyre on, theyre on. Title track Diamonds and Death is a spectacle from every angle Pfunders vocals are the absolute strongest of his career, the beat is catchy, and its slow build is reminiscent of an LCD Soundsystem banger. As Pfunder commandingly croons, Dont leave me for diamonds and death and the track bursts into life, its very easy to believe that VHS or Beta may be the next Cut Copy.
But the album takes a spiraling nose-dive after its first three tracks. Its almost baffling how good two of the first three tracks are in comparison to how meh the next five are. Despite their cleanest production to date and their largest soundscapes, the band fails to use the platform for anything spectacular. The one minor saving grace in the eight track effort is Watch Out, a dazzling disco melody with a hook as catchy as can be. But its not enough flair to save the poor album from itself.
Diamonds and Death could have very easily been great. A duo as good at what they do is seldom found, Pfunder is as strong a vocalist as any in the genre, and their repetitive melodies and beats are good, but had they spent a little more time on this album and come out with great repetitious beats (something like, say, The Fields latest), this album would have been spectacular. As is, its a messy hodgepodge of disco, electronic, and funk that youve heard done better elsewhere.
Essential Tracks: Breaking Bones, Diamonds and Death, Watch Out