Co-founded by the saxophonist in Vancouver collective Destroyer, Toronto quartet DIANA are the latest Canadian outfit to embrace the concept of the guilty pleasure scene with their debut album, Perpetual Surrender. Indeed, there are times when the band appears to be on some kind of quest to discover just how many soft-focus soft-rock 80s acts they can reference in just eight songs.
The blend of dreamy synths, slow-motion beats and yacht-rock guitars of opener “Foreign Installation” ends with an enchanting layer of echoed vocals reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love.” The title track combines the kind of tumbling drums last heard on the Baywatch theme with a languid Roxy Music-esque bass-line and a sax solo drenched in cocktail bar chic, while the hushed atmospherics of “New House” sound like a ghostly cover version of Phil Collins’ air-drum classic “In The Air Tonight.”
Carmen Elle’s seductive and stylish vocal presence, which at various points manages to recapture the otherworldliness of Kate Bush at her chart-dominating peak, also adds to the sense of retro glamour.
But Perpetual Surrender is much more intriguing when DIANA direct their time machine into less glossy territory as on “Strange Attraction,” a haunting Cocteau Twins-esque dream-pop number given a welcome sense of urgency by a wave of industrial percussion, and the epic closer “Curtain,” a gorgeous fusion of hymnal organs, ethereal synths and spacey drones which sounds tailor-made for the finale of a particularly bleak dystopian sci-fi thriller.
Resembling a chillwave remix of an I Love The ‘80s compilation, Perpetual Surrender is perhaps a little too blissed-out to make much of an impression outside the blogosphere. But few should feel any guilt at finding pleasure in DIANA’s hypnotic washed-out sound.