Diagrams - Black Light (Full Time Hobby)

There’s always going to be a place for well-crafted pop music with a soulful edge – and as the continuing inventiveness of Hot Chip has shown, there’s life in the genre yet.

Released Jan 17th, 2012 via Full Time Hobby / By Adam Corner
Diagrams - Black Light (Full Time Hobby) The debut album from Diagrams, the moniker of ex-Tunng vocalist and one-man-band Sam Genders, is nothing if not well-crafted pop music. The blend of the Gruff Rhys-esq harmonies with metronomic rhythms is reminiscent of the excellent (and sadly short-lived) collaboration between Gruff and Boom Bip, Neon Neon, and the more straightforward pop tracks – twee but perfectly executed – work really well.
The opening combo of the light-on-its-feet 'Ghost Lit' and the jet-propelled 'Tall Buildings' make for an impressive beginning, and the winsome 'Night All Night' wouldn’t sound out of place on an Arcade Fire album – although Diagrams’ style is way more glossy, much less grandiose, and a lot cleaner.

But while there are moments where the pieces of the puzzle hold together, at times the impression is style over substance: a beautifully arranged song lacking a killer hook, or an intriguing idea that doesn’t quite get going. On the title track 'Black Light', the upbeat chumminess and ultra-clean production becomes a bit wearing. Its somehow too polite for its own good, and when penultimate track 'Animals' sprinkles a coating of Atlas Sound-style psychadelia over everything, it’s all the better for it.

The influences that Diagrams draws on – Hot Chip, Gruff Rhys, or the Beta Band – all take the clean lines of pop production and bend them into an interesting new shape. Black Light doesn’t quite manage this – but there’s enough promise on here to keep an eye on Diagrams’ progress.