Just as any other decade, the ’90s had its retrospective sins. Anyone see the story, "The Top 10 Worst Hairstyles in Music Ever" on Digg.com? The ’90s are responsible for perpetuating at least half of them. Need we be reminded of hammer pants, stonewashed jeans or Color Me Badd?
Luckily, Brooklyn-based three piece The Diggs single-handedly identify and coagulate everything that was ever good about ’90s pop with their sophomore release ctrl-alt-del, a rockin’ record that screams Pumpkins grunge with a more recent tinge of Sparta’s edginess.
The production quality is insanely good. It’s no surprise the tracks were laid at Stratosphere Sound, the New York City studio owned by ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger.
Rudyard Lee Cullers (Ryan Adams’ Rock N’ Roll) mixed the album, and Howie Weinberg (Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Oasis’ Definitely Maybe) mastered it.
Ctrl-alt-del continuously delivers upon repeated listens when all its intricacies become revealed, and its subtlety can’t be anything less than appreciated.
Vocalist and guitarist Timothy Lannen is a master of dynamics. He’s not afraid to turn his beautiful tenor up to a scream, but always maintains his aesthetic tone. Together with bassist Robert Haussmann and drummer Charlie Schmid, the band seems to own the art of turning things up a notch, while each song naturally has its own riff, intro, build and unique take in a style that grasps you whole.
Lyrics on the album are straightforward. They are not ambiguous, which is not to say they are not poetic. They are simple yet catchy, and just as powerful as anything else on the indie front right now. Most of the songs are in second person, which may lend to certain lines becoming hard to shake long after the last track.
Lannen’s voice just gets into your head, and one-liners as if out of some daydream randomly hit home, as in "Careen," a drum-heavy, melodic, power-ballad. "There are thoughts that seldom survive," he sings. "It was a mistake coming here, but I was worried about you. I’m always worried about you."
Easily the best song on the album, "Anagrams" is catchy, dreamy and beautiful, while sparse keys glide in harmony with the guitar riff along the line, "And if I were you I’d find myself a safe, safe place."
"Brigante" is the definitive angsty, gut-wrenching track on the album. "Are you afraid of making mistakes? Well, you should be," Lannen croons. "Yeah, it seems to be working / And I love you, but I’ll cut you in half."
The Diggs really allow for space for the music to fully absorb you, and that is the case with every track, especially "Recovery Forever." The song has a note of finality to it, but listening to it is like getting to the last chapter of a great book, and secretly not wanting it to end.
Fortunately, "Recovery Forever" is not the end, and five equally stellar tracks come to follow. To experience the full effect of this album for free in its entirety, visit www.thediggs.com.