Diamond Youth - Orange
Record Label: Topshelf Records
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Back for another EP after the sunny goodness of the first, Diamond Youth is giving us a reason to love and really look forward to summer again. If you did or didn’t enjoy what they did on Don’t Lose Your Cool, chances are your opinion isn’t going to change to much with their second go Orange. However, the lack of significant change is countered with another batch of kicking alternative rock that puts a strong emphasis on melodies and catchiness – both musically and vocally. Orange ends up as a sure-footed second step for Diamond Youth, playing to the band’s strengths without forgetting to take us for a few curves along the way.
For the most part, Diamond Youth’s approach to pop-rock hasn’t changed much from their last EP Don’t Lose Your Cool – which is good because it seemed like they really had a good formula to work with in channeling the likes of Jimmy Eat World and Weezer. However, there is a somewhat noticeable tweak to things that while not completely out of left field, is still a refreshing hint of change musically. The quartet tapped their heavier (read: Queens of the Stone Age) influences a bit more this time around, leaving some great dynamics between the swooning choruses (“Separator”) and crunching melodies (“Orange”) as the EP moves across its six tracks. Yet, there’s some moments where things don’t really fit into either of those ideas – “Come Down” starts as a classy slow(er) jam that pushes a bounty of melodies through the various instruments without losing too much steam, only to burst out as a seemingly different beast with percussion aplenty and a driving alt-rock second verse.
The vibe of Orange though is very much laid out to support the cleaner, shinier production this EP boasts. Working with Brian McTernan gave these guys a somewhat glossy, but still powerful sound that works well enough whether the tempo is full-tilt or held back a bit. What is still quite apparent is the vocal layering of dreamy croons even as the music goes from summery pop to slightly darker rock. “Separator” is a wonderful pick here as well, matching a Foo Fighters rock number with the subtle and smooth voice of frontman Justin Gilman. “Lola” isn’t quite as rocking, but still instills a sense of confident songwriting while balancing the focus between the simple, yet polished guitar work and the ready-to-soar nature of the vocals. And yet while the production on the vocals sounds superb for the poppy side these guys rock, it turns things a bit predictable at times – which is great if you dig Gilman’s swooning voice and the layering behind it, but a bit tough if you’re hoping for things to show more versatility.
That being said, it is a little difficult to really nitpick this EP. While I could say I’d like to hear the production a little rawer or the songs a little heavier in terms of writing, this is where Diamond Youth is right now. Orange might not be a complete sign of things to come for the band, but for now, this EP stands as what should be a stepping stone for them to continue to impress fans from both the alternative and pop sides of the spectrum.