Up until now, 2007 had been looking a bit thin on the ground for totally ace new bands, but never fear – Lavender Diamond have arrived like a shaft of summer sunshine on the afternoon of a perfect festival to put that right, the musical equivalent of a picnic basket filled with never-ending strawberries, cream and pink champagne.
We have had advance warning of course, in the form of the recent Cavalry Of Light EP, and to reward the faithful who took notice of them then, their debut album Imagine Our Love shares none of its tracks, giving us another 12 whole reasons to declare them true musical geniuses.
They describe their music as ‘pristine pocket symphonies’ and the images this conjures up isn’t a bad starting point. Chamber pop is another label you could apply to them, sumptuous string symphoniettas that have emerged fully formed from a pop time machine that’s been making surreptitious stops between wherever the Medieval Babes like to think they come from, via turn-of-the-last-century operetta, 1920s lounges and Fleetwood Mac.
Becky Stark’s vocals soar and dive from whispery soprano to somewhere deeper and darker, backed up by pianos, violas, violins and cello. It’s no longer anything new to blur the line between the musical worlds of classical and pop but rarely are they brought together as well or as beautifully as they are here.
The band do fast and furious on Oh No and Side Of The Lord; slow and heartbroken on Garden Rose, I’ll Never Lie Again, Bring Me A Song and the lullaby-like closer When You Wake For Certain; pure pop on Open Your Heart and Here Comes One. Add in tribal beats on Like An Arrow, while on Dance Until It’s Tomorrow, you can almost hear the glass beginning to shatter as Stark’s voice reaches higher than any human should be allowed to before My Shadow Is A Monday wanders through a bar where the moonshine flows freely, sweetly and illegally.
And so it goes on, across 12 tracks of pure musical perfection. Forced at gunpoint to pick a favourite, it would have to be the piano tip-toe and brass reply of Bring Me A Song or perhaps Find A Way, which channels the ghost of Nico and teaches it to sing, but in truth there’s not a single duff track showing its face anywhere remotely close to here.
It’s impossible to categorise music as unique and idiosyncratic as this, but Lavender Diamond’s desire to align themselves with the sublime Decemberists is a good pointer to whether or not you might like them. They toured with the Colin Meloy’s troupe of nutters earlier this year and he covered Oh No on the Open Your Heart single.
Other comparisons could be drawn with Isobel Campbell and Kirsty MacColl, both in the way the music combines folk influences with pop and classical sensibilities and in the fact that it doesn’t really sound like anything else at all.
In short, they’re something worth treasuring and Imagine Our Love is a strong early contender for album of the year. A stunning and wonderful debut from a band who seem to have come out of nowhere. Lots more, please.