Album review: Deep City Diver
For fans of: The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Aztec Camera
It says something very creditable about the faith in unsigned Hackney based trio Deep City Diver that they were able to use that lifeline Kickstarter to raise £1600 towards the printing and production costs to enable their debut self-titled album to be issued on vinyl. So, just how well was that public belief in Deep City Diver repaid? Read on.
The first released track from the album is Everyone is Alone, a solid track with strong lead guitar, good, deep, tuneful vocals and a soaring chorus. This is quite the banger in a good quality, well crafted way, and I’m sure it would go down exceptionally well live. Deep City Diver have been compared with The War on Drugs and on this track I can certainly understand why.
Lead singer Ryan Nicolussi was in a Sydney based band Slow Waves in the early 2010’s, and the recordings of that band at that time show a somewhat more experimental, bluesy indie vibe. Now London based, Nicolussi (or Nico as he is generally known as) and his fellow divers craft a more mature and mainstream sound, although on this showing their influences are spread wide and it remains difficult to pin these boys down. Joe Macmillan (Bass) and Ryan Kalkman (Drums) make up the trio.
The track As The Crow Flies was first conceived as long ago as 2009, and each track on the Deep City Diver LP collection represents little pockets of time during the long journey since. The vocals on this track evoke something of Morrissey with an impressive vocal croon and a somewhat dramatic, brooding, well paced and wandering musical backdrop. Along with Everyone is Alone, this is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Honeyeater is another epic, dramatic slowie and once again demonstrate that Deep City Diver enjoy the complex lyric. The band have said they admire The Smiths, and here is the tribute.
Opener Easy Pray from its opening really reminded me of early Echo and the Bunnymen or Aztec Camera with a bit of Postcard era Orange Juice jangling guitar mixed in. The outcome is a pleasant, mature listen although it’s difficult to create your own sound for every song in that crowded guitar band genre. Down On Wreckyn Street, I’m Ruined is another thrusting guitar led track which I can picture as another live classic; the band keep the pressure on with a pulsing beat throughout, and there’s a groovy little synth sub tune going on to add complexity. Another World is a tribute to the band’s adopted city of London and finding love in a transient society. Again it’s a track with a fairly punchy and melodic vibe to it; it’s kind of like Spingsteen on a muted understated day.
Living in the Hyphen has more of a synth ballad vibe and again it draws me back to the 1980’s where I can picture it in a film score. Think of an edgy Bryan Adams influenced by The Police if that’s not too much of an oxymoron to compute. It’s a good track but I can’t describe it as this particular reviewer’s favourite. Youth is another synth heavy track to close the album, and it’s a deep, sweeping, epic tune which rather reminds me of Soft Cell at best wallow. Nico’s voice is top notch on this one.
Nothing Hurts offers an interesting riposte to Michael Stipe, and it’s a bouncing guitar track and Nico’s voice has yet another dimension with a joyous, excited tone to it.
Deep City Diver’s observation that each of the tracks on their debut album were written and constructed at different times certainly gives some sense to what is a really very diverse sounding album. It almost sounds like a “greatest hits” collection from over a long career rather than represent a band at a given moment in time. It’s none the worse for it, as I wouldn’t describe any of the tracks on the album as “filler” although inevitably it means there are distinct favourites amongst the pile.
Overall, I’m encouraged by this strong, confident and diverse debut album by Deep City Diver and it’s a solid 4/5 star recording with plenty to enjoy. I look forward to discovering just which of these tantalising directions the band will travel to next.
Deep City Diver’s debut album is available digitally on 6 October and on vinyl from 20 October 2017. To celebrate the launch Deep City Diver are doing gigs in London and Stoke on Trent. Keep tabs on the band at: https://www.facebook.com/deepcitydiverband