Diagrams – Chromatics

The perfect accompaniment to bashing away the January blues…

Don’t you just love it when you suddenly find yourself swaying in your chair or spinning around your bedroom? Even as a 30-something, stumbling on a pop song that makes you so happy is such a joy. It’s about half way through ‘Chromatics’ when this happens.

‘You Can Talk To Me’ subtly jumps you. You’ve probably been tapping your foot or nodding your head until now anyway, thanks to Sam Genders’ lovely blend of simple, positive, imaginative and fun pop. But now you appear to be dancing.

‘Chromatics’ is the second solo record as Diagrams from former Tunng member Genders, and it’s just as good as his first. The more psychedelic melodies that started in Tunng and faded slightly for 2012’s ‘Black Light’ may have disappeared a bit more, but they’ve been replaced with energetic tunes wrapped in sparking electro and layers of soft harmonies, along with Genders’ own recognisable vocals, as comforting as a woolly blanket.

He’s also drafted in some special collaborators, including backing vocals from Smoke Fairies, string and brass arrangements from Danyal Dhondy and Sam Ewens, and producer Leo Abrahams, whose magic touch always manages to make an album more of an addiction.

‘Dirty Broken Bliss’ is another mover, maybe borrowing slightly from some of The Flaming Lips’ ‘Yoshimi…’: it’s anime, it’s youthful and it’s brilliant. Elsewhere, ‘Brain’ smashes together a bit of Pink Floyd with a gentler Arcade Fire, leaving space for the sound of a child’s heartbeat.

There are darker moments too, like the eerie vocals and wind swept landscape sounds of ‘Shapes’ or the heart-breaking love song ‘Just A Hair’s Breadth’, Genders singing about CGI while backed by reverbing brass and swirling strings before escalating into something Glen Campbell would be proud of.

Even with these moments, this is a feel-good record. It makes you feel good. It’s about love and life and happiness and positivity without being the slightest bit sloppy. It’s the perfect accompaniment to bashing away the January blues and starting 2015 with a smile on your face.


Words: Gemma Hampson

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