Review: Diorama – Cubed

Diorama are a remarkably consistent band. You know exactly what you are going to get more or less, and they deliver consistently. However, with each successive release they manage to sneak in a little more maturity and when you look at the entire Diorama catalogue you can see just how far they’ve grown.

One area which has become a Diorama staple is the big, anthemic electronic belter. This is a trait they share with VNV Nation (who take it even further, just skirting the edge of “too much”), and it looks good on them.

Lead single, “Child of Entertainment”, “Stereotype”, “Golden Boy”, and “Cubed” each fall into this category and when the boys ramp it up they fire on all cylinders. It just works; they know how to do this stuff effortlessly. When they try to mix it up it doesn’t work as well. Piano ballad “My Counterfeit” just ends up sounding a little wet and soppy and it goes nowhere; “Lord of the Lies” is overblown and lyrically pretentious (sometimes their lyrics go in this direction but when the music soars it almost makes sense, it “belongs”). But overall this is, song for song the best we’ve gotten from Diorama. It’s a solid, workmanlike, sometimes inspired album.

There’s a German coldness here that works with the melodies they create. Many European electronic bands aren’t easily identified with their country of origin, accents fade in the music, styles become universal, but not Diorama. They are German through and through in look, in sound, in style. They are the more melodic natural descendants of Kraftwerk and it’s a mantel they’ve earned over a long period of hard work and great care with their song-craft. It’s technically proficient, extremely clipped and almost formal. “Cubed” describes the band perfectly, they are perfectly formed, all sharp edges and angles. Not every band can exude those qualities and still remain interesting after 14 years but these guys are good enough that they pull it off.

Torben Wendt is in great voice and the rest of the band are hitting their marks better than ever. It can be a little angsty and a little melodramatic but when the beats are this good those things easily fall by the wayside. It’s a solid effort and a real sign of continued growth and an ever-building strength.  Darkwave as it was meant to be.

Watch: Child of Entertainment

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