Part of the trick seems to be the character of lead singer Joshua Putney’s voice, which can sound like Bernard Sumner (of New Order) on the darker material, foreboding and serious; and like Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement) on the lighter, poppier fare, without sounding like he’s singing as a character. He just sings what the songs seem to need.
And that’s the other part of the trick – the band writes good songs, which allows them to inhabit them with their playing. The lyrics have touches of Leonard Cohen in them at times, meditating on the magic of life while raging against the truth of having to live it, attempting to transcend the day-to-day grind of existence, while reveling in the appreciation of the small things, like children playing and a lover’s smile.
There’s garage rock guitars scattered throughout the album to do the raging, from the jangle of the opener “Everything” to the not-quite-metal of the cleverly titled “Please…Baron Mind” to the almost-Crazy Horse of album closer “Weekend Warriors.” But there’s also acoustic-oriented material like “The Art of Reinvention,” which has nice, subtle harmonies that walk the line between melancholy and bouncy, and the inclusion of a banjo on “Three Joyous Shouts.”
The slice-of-life track “Any Other Day” encapsulates what many of the songs are about, and has the great line “Every breath is a gift, I’m always gasping for more.” And the title track is probably the sweetest song on the album, a catchy chorus, beautiful harmonies, and the simple message of “If you want to go where you’ve never been, it’s always nice to have a friend.”
These are strong, deep songs, executed with craftsmanship, and a solid debut from an up-and-coming Des Moines band. The album was released in April, and is available to stream for free or buy for “whatever you want” here: http://diamondsforeyes.bandcamp.com/album/the-era-of-our-ways