Islands and the Unicorns frontman Nick Diamonds has announced a new solo album. He also released a stream of new track “The Sting,” summoning his inner Don Johnson.
As his followup to 2011’s well-received I Am an Attic, City of Quartz is set for a May 26th release via Manque Music. Judging from the advanced single “The Sting” (which you can listen to below), Diamonds has developed a love affair with a very ’80s inspired sound. In addition to heavily gated drum machines, preset synth sounds and layers upon layers of reverb, delay and tremelo, “The Sting” features smokey vocals that could be lifted from a background scene in Miami Vice. Then a guitar solo a la ZZ Tops “Legs” drops in, and there’s no way that you’ll return from the ’80s without the assitance of Doc, Marty and a flux capacitor-equipped DeLorean.
But the song remains unmistakably Diamonds, which is only partially a result of the air-tight pop songwriting. Though he tries to minimize his trademark detuned vocals (often compared to Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, though Diamonds’ aspirations might be more pop-oriented than anyone would ever mistake the Lips of being) up front, his slightly squealy harmonics are very present by the bridge of the song when he begins to harmonize with himself. Yet, he’s found a way to make the sound his own, dialing back the flat screechiness that typifies a Coyne delivery, instead concocting sickly-sweet sound that’s unbelievably infectious.
With the release of the album, Diamonds has also reaffirmed his status as true musical workaholic, after composing the theme song and original music to the podcast SERIAL. He was also busy all of last year gearing up and then reuniting with the Unicorns for an extensive 2014 tour. This tour included a live date at the LA’s Great Western Forum with contemporaries Dan Deacon and Arcade Fire. The band went out in support of a reissue of their 2003 album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, which included four previously unheard tracks. Unfortunately, the same music industry pressures that had torn the band apart in 2004 were still present in 2014, ensuring that the reunion would be short-lived.
2014 was also a productive year for Diamonds main project Islands, having performed an extensive slew of live dates themselves. The last album the band released, 2013’s Ski Mask, was announced within a year of the group releasing Diamonds’ divorce album with the group A Sleep & a Forgetting, furthering quelling any rumors that Diamonds might have taken a nap any time in the past couple years.
As always, there is a fervent fan base greedily awaiting anything that indie rock auteur Diamonds will release. In addition to the aforementioned releases, re-releases and reunions, Diamonds has also played pivotal roles in Mister Heavenly (which featured Michael Cera of Arrested Development fame on bass), Reefer, Th’ Corn Gangg and Human Highway–most of them formed with several of his friends from other well-known bands.
Listen to the new track “The Sting” below off the forthcoming album City of Quartz.