It’s fair to say ex-Smith Western Cullen Omori knows how to write a riff; he makes this undeniably obvious in the opening ten seconds of his second album ‘The Diet’, which pairs glistening sunny day indie with the therapeutic space that writing music offers when life gets a little tough. The result? A record which sounds like a steady inhale and a newly refreshed and confident exhale.
Whether in the upbeat melodies of the album’s lead tracks or melancholy-tinged songs like ‘Queen’, a cathartic texture runs through ‘The Diet’, representing a regain of control in both Omori’s personal life and songwriting style. Where artful indie rock is concerned, singles ‘Four Years’ and ‘Happiness Reigns’ offer the catchiest and most memorable moments, embracing soaring guitar work and sixties-inspired powerpop sensibilities. These tracks give ‘The Diet’ its most distinctive sense of direction, sealed with crisp production and occasional nods to classical songwriting influences such as The Beatles, drawn upon through a 21st Century lens. Omori claims to search for something deeper on his new album, yet the repetitiveness of numerous dejected, wistful, doting tunes about a lover is saved only by the new energy and pace bought to the table by tracks such as ‘Millennial Geishas’.
At its best, ‘The Diet’s’ bursts of hazy poetic recollections on tracks like ‘A Real You’ paired with surprising flirtations with horns or tones of psychedelia make for truly rewarding moments. In other places, some of the album’s slower tracks leave it open to falling flat, with Omori’s heavy emotional lamentations at times a little overbearing. Despite the impression given by the opening track, this is more an album for quiet summer evening reflections than for sunny scorchers.