If Vampire Weekend was a person and they had a cousin it would be Modern Diet. Modern Diet, which originally began as a solo project for Jake Cheriff (vocals/keys) is a band that emphasizes melody, mood and lyrics. Cheriff has an almost childlike voice that is comparable to Ezra Koenig. While at least early Vampire Weekend is referenced to as a hybrid ska/punk/African music and pop Modern Diet has its roots in jazz and pop music. Modern Diet prefers clean guitars to distorted ones, which leaves an open canvas for the instruments to breath. The piano and bass parts don’t hide behind walls of white noise but have there own little pocket to breathe in.
On their latest EP entitled Chemicals the band brings together four songs that all revolve around “coming undone.” They kick things off with a rather slow moving but enjoyable song entitled “1822.” A jazzy drumbeat follows an electric piano and the vocals, which are the focal center of the music. The song follows a loose narrative that seems to be about a poignant memory. The lyrics paint the perspective as if you are the person’s subconscious describing the sensations and actions around you. He sings; “Toes warm in the sand facing the coast phone in my hand head on the ground thinking about the bridges and bells no longer around.”
“Let Me In” brings up the energy by a couple of notches. The guitarist and bassist get to flex their muscles a bit more and pull off some impressive chops. There were a number of times when the guitarist just knocks it out of the park.
“Chemicals” is another impressive song where Cheriff's vocals are fast and loose almost as if he is rhyming. There were some horns on this song, which was a very welcome addition to the song. Towards the end the song builds crescendo upon crescendo until it has nowhere left to go.
Arguably the highlight of the EP is “Umbrella Gun.” Cheriff delivers his most infectious vocal melody on the album where he displays his range sometimes breaking into falsetto. The song is a good closer as it ends showcasing new territory for the band. It is an atmospheric, whirlwind of sounds that are on the verge of being psychedelic. Modern Diet are a tight band who have a solid, original sound that I feel is accessible yet not necessarily commercial.
I’m looking forward to another release.
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