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Love of Diagrams - Love of Diagrams

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Artist: Love of Diagrams

Album: Love of Diagrams

Label: Matador

Review date: Jan. 30, 2007

Last year's Delta 5 reissue (following on an equally impressive reissue of Lora Logic material before that) reminded us all that boys had no exclusive claim to no wave/post-punk idioms like angular guitars, scraped and abrasive bass lines, shouted semi-melodic choruses and pogo-dancing. As the gene pool of male post-punk impersonators grows ever shallower -- Liars giving way to Franz, Franz to Maximo, Futureheads to the Editors -- maybe it's time for girl-fronted herky-jerk to take center stage. Make room for Erase Errata, the Rogers Sisters, Wet Confetti, Swan Island and, more to the point, Love of Diagrams, a Melbourne Australia-based, heavily caffeinated trio, whose four-song EP is a brief, tantalizing taste of an album slated for later this year. The band's been gathering steam (and credentials) since 2005, touring Australia with Sonic Youth, picking up Bob Weston as producer, landing a deal with Matador, and even selling a cut (the fantastically tense and edgy "No Way Out") to The OC. What they need now is a big record...or at least that's the plan.

All that is a few months out, though, and right now we have just four songs to consider. One of them, "No Way Out," we've already alluded to. It's like coiled barbed wire, all twitchy, clamped down guitars, rampaging bass lines and clattery, claustrophobic drumming. What makes it all go down as easily as it does is an overlay of sung sweetness, an intoxicating boy-girl dialogue between bassist Antonia Sellbach and guitarist Luke Horton. "One way or another," insinuates Horton, and Sellbach can hardly wait for him to finish the line, bursting in with an anxiety-bristling "I can! I can! I can!" that matches the head-pounding instrumental riff. It's a track that's been Love of Diagrams' calling card for years, first released on an Australian EP in 2005, and it's ferocious.

The other cuts are newer, recorded with Bob Weston last year. "Pace of Patience" is straight-up four-four punk frenzy, everybody landing on the same staccato quarter-notes in robot-y abrasive non-riffs. You can hardly hear it without wanting to jump up and down, straight up, straight down, no variations, like it's 1981 again. "The Pyramid" is more fluid, slower, feedback allowed to build into solid walls of sound, Sellbach giving her voice a little vibrato in the longer notes. Her bass still has that late-1970s metallic crunch to it, though, the popping, scratching, pick-heavy sound that you can hear in Gang of Four, Delta 5 and any number of other similar vintage bands.

To fill out the quartet of songs, LOD includes a live version of Pylon's first single "Cool." The original is, of course, a chilly tour de force, its evil bass line punctuated by cluster-fuck guitar chords, Vanessa Briscoe's disembodied voice murmuring "Elegance, elegance, elegance is cool." LOD's take is rougher, dirtier, less forboding, more rock and less pristine new wave menace, but quite good on its own terms.

And that's it, four songs, huge potential and a big question mark. Will LOD turn out to be another watery post-punk imitator with big label backing and TV show exposure? Or will it be like Pylon - fiercely itself, difficult, rewarding and not really cut out for mass popularity? It's up in the air right now, but let's hope for the best.

By Jennifer Kelly

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