Diane Coffee might be a broken kaleidoscope pointed squarely at the past, but at least its colors don’t run. The psychedelic project helmed by Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming soaks up as many rays from the ‘60s and ‘70s as it possibly can, then photosynthesizes them into the kind of organism you’d expect from a twenty-whatever-year-old who’s obsessed with T-Rex and spent a few years in New York City for kicks. Fleming’s second album as Diane Coffee, Everybody’s a Good Dog, kicks up the production values a touch from his 2013 debut Mr. Fish, but doesn’t venture outside the psych rock pen he’s built for himself.
And that’s fine. If you’ve ever seen Foxygen play live, you know that when they’re not fighting, they’re having a hell of a lot of fun. Just because a period piece is faithful doesn’t mean it’s not spirited. For what it’s worth, Everybody’s a Good Dog bites off a good deal less than Foxygen’s last sprawl, ...And Star Power, and it’s perfectly capable of chewing its own 11-track mouthful. Strings rush through album opener “Spring Breathes” and later “Duet”, horns splash in here and there, and backing vocals hum low under Fleming’s permanently crimped delivery. He’s made a lush, whole record that doesn’t fear melodrama. He doesn’t give a shit about overdoing it.
“I want to be in love/ I want to be with you,” sings Fleming on “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be”, in case you missed any of the trillion signs that this is an album full of a dude singing about capital-L Love. On lead single “Everyday”, he crashes into a lighter-worthy chorus with the words “stop playing games with my heart,” which not only echoes that one Backstreet Boys hit from yesteryear, but also parallels another command from “All the Young Girls” off Mr. Fish: “Stop breaking my body.”
“Did you break my heart or was it just my stereo?” Fleming sings on “Duet” before handing the mic off to Felicia Douglass. It’s the kind of line only High Fidelity‘s Rob Gordon could love, so thoroughly steeped in the mythology of the mythology of loving music that it zips off into space with hardly a tether to the drive that made Sylvain Sylvain pick up an electric guitar in the first place.
As a document of a young person discovering, loving, and thoroughly internalizing decades-old music, Everybody’s a Good Dog puts in its work and goes home at the end of the day. It’s not inventive or urgent, but it’s not supposed to be. There’s not much that glam rock, in the most formal and sterile sense of the phrase, can do for us now that it hasn’t already done, except maybe supply an incubator for young musicians to sing words like “groovy” and “oh yeah” and “dig.” Diane Coffee is a rock-solid reenactment, and if you haven’t already worn the grooves down on Electric Warrior, you might even be able to have some fun with it. But a costume is a costume, and this one hardly passes for a disguise.
Essential Tracks: “Everyday”