Release Date: Jun 16, 2015
Record label: Manqué Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
For the better part of the past decade, Nick "Diamonds" Thorburn has been carrying around the term "ex-Unicorn" like a carcass from a game-hunting expedition—a proud achievement, but at the same time, a burden that's cast a shadow on everything he's done since. And that's as much to do with the fact that the Unicorns' first and only widely released album was a zeitgeist-defining masterwork as the fact that its unwieldy art-pop presented a yarn ball's worth of ideas—prog fantasias, pop harmonies, garage rock, synth-freaked funk, horror-movie soundtracks—that each of Thorburn's subsequent projects have untangled and laid out in an orderly, linear fashion. While the scenery behind him has routinely changed, Thorburn's voice has retained its childlike sense of wonder and mischief, establishing a through line that connects his present-day pursuits to his former flagship band.
If you’ve ever wondered how one might include notorious criminal Charles Manson on a synthpop record in 2015, Nick Diamonds has your answer. On his new solo offering, City of Quartz, Diamonds (aka Nicholas Thorburn, also of The Unicorns and Islands) saves his most interesting concept — loneliness in the digital age — for the album’s final moments, with Manson’s help. Things take a dark turn on “The Sting”, as Diamonds pithily croons “turn on, get off” over warbled synths and a simple drumbeat.
Since first taking a stab at solo work with the Bandcamp-released I Am An Attic, Islands frontman Nick Diamonds (real name: Nick Thorburn) has explored some dark territory. Collaborating with members of Man Man and The Shins on the 2011 debut of Mister Heavenly, he helped concoct a grim, menacing take on early rock ’n’ roll that the group called “doom-wop.” Over the next two years, he used his main band’s records to work through the anguish and regret of his divorce. Last year, he crafted sets of bleak soundscapes for the hit podcast Serial.
Nick "Diamonds" Thorburn of the Unicorns, Islands and the composer behind the Serial podcast is back once again - this time with a solo album. This follow-up to his 2011 solo debut marks a departure from his most recent works. It's all wobbly synth lines, bouncy drum samples and glittery effects that sound like they could've come from a NES video game.