As of mid-March, 2015 has boasted some high-calibre Australian music releases. Twerps, Dick Diver, Courtney Barnett and Love Of Diagrams have made the early months their own by dropping some anticipated albums. As to the quality of these releases you’ll have to read their individual remarks, but for now it’s safe to say that Blast by Love Of Diagrams is, at least, worth the five year wait for long-time fans. Those who have savoured every available morsel of music from the Melbourne trio have most likely already succumbed to the ‘auralgasm’ of new tunes, but the true test of success here is how newcomers to L.O.D. will receive the album. As one of those newcomers, I have some thoughts.
Blast is the fourth full-length LP from Antonia Sellbach, Monika Fikerle and Luke Horton since 2009’s Nowhere Forever but the members haven’t been idle – what with Antonia Sellbach also playing in Beaches – as the band have pieced together the album over the years in between releases. The album has copped a bit of criticism for not matching expectations set by previous releases or sounding to familiar to works already engraved into the tablet of history but, for a relative newcomer to the sound, it was, overall, an enjoyable ride. The opening forcefulness of ‘Double Negative’ is a great start, while ‘Story Up’ keeps things humming. The atmospherics are where Love Of Diagrams excel: washed out riffs and hypnotic call-and-response vocals caress and make even the most up-tempo moments smooth. That being said, something wasn’t clicking. Things fit, it all sounded clean and well recorded so I asked myself, “This album is fine, but what am I missing?”
To inform my opinions a little bit better I went back in time and listened to Nowhere Forever to see where the band came from before. The difference was immediate, the album is fantastic – it kicked me in the face and pinned me down with the sheer weight of noise. Openers, ‘Static Information’ and ‘Forever’ bore down on me and forced me to relent to the sonic wave. Even ‘softer’ and ‘psychedelic’ tracks like ‘Magnify’ and ‘All You Know’ carried emotional weight and heavily lacquered tone.
So it was realised: Nowhere Forever packed more of a punch. Blast is a fine album, but listening to the former and then the latter reveals a thinness in sound on Blast that is not present on Nowhere Forever. The thick soundwaves on Nowhere sounded like a result of slightly lower-tech recording and the torrent of sound was better filtered through the unrefined specs. Many songs on Blast carry girthy tones but something was lost in the gap.
Overall, Blast is a great listen and one I will come back to. Love Of Diagrams have a fan in me and I am anticipating the chance to see them perform live. One concession I will make to the negative is the overall ‘safeness’ of the sound. Critics are correct in the sense that there isn’t much that is ground-breaking on Blast. Personally, I wasn’t let down by this album at all but then I entered with little-to-no expectations, but going backwards showed me the viciousness Love of Diagrams carried before. I won’t say that Love Of Diagrams have moved backwards, but maybe a few fans will be disappointed with the lack of bite shown on Blast. Perhaps the album was less of a new statement and more of a reminder that even after an extended hiatus this band know how to churn out noise like the best of them – I’d highly encourage the trio to build on this and come back ‘round to my ears again soon with more.