There’s something very Scandinavian about Diefenbach. Not a hugesurprise, you might think, as the quintet hail from Copenhagen, buttheir music has that unique blend of melancholy tinged with euphoria that theNorth Europeans seem to do so well.
Of course that would lead you to think of Royksopp, butDiefenbach are more guitar based than the Bergen duo, and rely more onsongwriting and lyrical input, delivered through the voce tones ofKenneth Sarup. His voice proves key to their overall sound, softand mellow yet occasionally lifting into a relatively rich, upper registersound.
What really raises this album above the ordinary, however, is itsproduction. Stripped to the bare bones the songs are extremely basic- not a criticism – but with the added wash of synthesized sound around theedges they become widescreen delights, easy to lose yourself in. With theband confessing to a huge interest in films, indeed being named after acharacter from Fargo, this is not a huge surprise. Police, aneasily ambling song, takes on the feel of a stroll through a field on a hotsummer’s day, lightly pastoral. The uplifting Glorious, meanwhile, hasa wonderfully deep bass sound that throbs almost out of earshot, oblivious tothe contrary lyrics.
The bittersweet words are a curious feature of the band’ssongwriting.Glorious ought to be an ode to wonderful love, but has a funny way ofshowing it as it winds up sounding something akin to domestic abuse, asSarup sings, “as you smash my teeth in, you define, we were glorious”.Justas the record threatens to sink into an ambient comfort zone, FavouriteFriend unexpectedly injects a groove into proceedings, the subtleviolenceof Glorious still only just beneath the surface, the song asking “whywehave to fight”.
Diefenbach sound rather less at ease in these higher tempo numbers.TheRocket has some evocative keyboard bookends, but becomes disjointed inthemiddle. Far more impressive are the subtle grandeur of songs like It’sOnlyLove, or opener Mechanical, a couple of subtle Cure referencesinproduction yet with a sinister undercurrent.
This is an interesting variant on slow burning guitar music, withgoodquality songs pushed up a notch by mysterious vocals and a mostlygorgeous,mellow sound texture, a treat for the home stereo. Buy it and indulgeyourself!