and Niklas Hedman named their band after a Sentridoh
track, which should neatly encapsulate where these two are coming
from. Indeed, Diversity is an impossibly lo-fi affair, and
like Barlow's home recordings, much of this record comes off
more as a sketchbook than an actual album.
Only one of these
songs reaches the two minute mark (at exactly two minutes),
meaning this is more about ideas than presentation -- something
which should tickle the fancy of any treasure-seeking DIY fanatic.
There's tons of tape fuzz and distortion to wade through, but the
bare-boned approach also implies that the band's melodies are front
and centre. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the infectious
opener, "Tragedy is Coming Your Way," whose quaint combo of vocals,
guitar, and drum machine transcends the garbling of the lo-fi
production equipment. Though the duo implements the confessional
style that characterizes Barlow at his best, the songwriting itself
has more in common with the Scandinavian indie pop scene than it
does with Sentri- or Sebadoh.
Of course, not every
song on Diversity is a hit, and this record more or less
lives or dies by the almighty pop hook. Hence, wistful "Sleepy Ned"
and the fleeting title-track could be considered successes due to
their sweetly hummable melodies. Conversely, atmospheric "Tonight"
and brave experiment "A Fair Fight" fail because they lack the
essential ingredient. Certainly, only the brave lo-fi fanatic is
likely to see the joy in Forever Instant, as these guys turn
shoddy production values into a whole artform unto itself. However, the
impressive ratio of good to bad pop songs helps propel Diversity
into the annals of solid Scandinavian lo-fi pop -- a scene the
Series Two label is rapidly cataloguing.