Album Review: Diamond Youth – Nothing Matters

While members of Diamond Youth may have a pedigree of hardcore brutality, including the likes of Terror and Trapped Under Ice, anyone expecting the same from the Baltimore mob will be in for a bit of a shock.

Instead, ‘Nothing Matters’ picks up from 2013’s ‘Orange’ and 2014’s ‘Shake’ to offer up a mature take on alt-rock that is at times robust, at others beguiling, but never anything short of entertaining.

‘Nothing Matters’ is also brilliantly succinct. Only one single song breaks the 4 minute barrier (and even then it’s 4 minutes on the dot) meaning there’s clearly an intention to make ‘Nothing Matters’ as sharp and as direct as possible. No doubt that’s the group’s hardcore background resulting in some tight editing but it translates beautifully to the likes of ‘Riptide’, which could have been a morose and meandering dirge if delivered by less confident hands.

However, for all brooding mid-paced numbers, it’s not where ‘Nothing Matters’ excels. Instead, it’s the punked up songs which really stand out. ‘Thought I Had It Right’ has a rumbling bassline that owes a debt of gratitude to the Pixies but is a killer highlight filled with fuzzy vocals and a monstrous chorus, while ‘In The Clouds’ is a rollicking stomp of epic proportions.

Elsewhere, opener ‘Nothing Matters’ has a breezy Beach Boys pop vibe – something of a trait on a record which is strong on hooks and melodies, even if they remain buried under distortion – while ‘The Nothing’ is a dark, new wave anthem that owes as much to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age than it does your typical Topshelf fare.

If anything, the biggest drawback of ‘Nothing Matters’ is that its reference points are all a little too prominent. It’s easy to spot the influence of the likes of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, the Pixies and the Beach Boys and it would be nice to see a bit more originality from what are clearly very talented musicians and more than competent songwriters.

Naturally, that doesn’t mean ‘Nothing Matters’ is a bad album – in fact, far from it – there’s not a duff song on it, and the group’s ability to deliver 11 songs in a blistering 32 minutes means it’s an album you can put on repeat and lose an afternoon to very easily. It’s just I’m left wishing it had more of an individual voice to push it from being a good album to a great one.

3.5/5

‘Nothing Matters’ by Diamond Youth is out now on Topshelf Records.

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Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)

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