I'm just about one of the last people who should be writing about this album. I don't care much for disco. I don't carve out much of my life for funk. In all likelihood, that probably isn't going to change anytime soon. If things progress the way they're going, eventually my music listening will be just about completely limited to whatever impenetrable drone I can rip torrents of.
Well, that and Miss Diamond To You.
Most of the reviews I've read of this sort of music (and that's a phrase that no album can go unlabeled by, "this sort of music") are reviews that take it for granted that just about everybody listens to pop/dance/nu-disco unapologetically, with no sense of shame for the time spent with just straight up "fun" music. Hey, they probably do. There's a good swath of the population of the world who listen to music for straight up pleasure, that go to movies to escape, prefer their paintings to look as closely as possible to dead royalty, and like their books to end with hard core make-out sessions between a couple of beautiful protagonists. There's a reason that Friends ran for 700 seasons and The Wire ekes out some pretty tragic Nielsens. Most of the time, snarky bullshit comes about for the sole reason that critics don't follow the same path--we're so in love with everything that no one's heard of that when we hit up on that which everyone's heard of, recoiling from it becomes the natural response. Critics run up against somebody talking for hours about how great Little Miss Sunshine is and how dull Zodiac was, and it turns into a "Well, you're a stupid motherfucker, here's why--" and that's just bullshit, most of the time. Somebody likes to feel good, and Zodiac didn't do that for them. That doesn't mean they're stupid. There's nothing inherently wrong with craving good times. (Not to say that the opposite is true either--if getting creeped and grossed out by Ichi The Killer is your bag, that doesn't mean there's anything inherently wrong with that either.) There's a middle ground, here, is what we're saying. But if you haven't figured out that the middle ground isn't the most stimulating thing to talk about, then you're clearly dodging most of the news, all of the critics and every televised sporting event ever. Nasty gets eyeballs, tyrants get airtime, and sound bites are constructed out of rantings. So here's me, trying not to apologize for liking something that's incredibly easy to enjoy--a straight up 2007 disco album from a British singer named Kathy Diamond. While she's not exactly selling Britney or J.Lo levels, she's probably going to eventually. And that's great.
Sexy pop, computerized handclaps, an electric bass and a synthesized smoky vocal don't usually translate into the sort of music that I want to listen to--after all, that's pretty much a description that's going to fit about fifty percent of the albums that those intensely obnoxious publicity-hungry prostitutes who make the top 12 of American Idol. For some reason though--maybe it's because she's British, possibly because she's not all over the celebrity circuit, and mostly because it's out-and-out gorgeous, Kathy Diamond just fucking works. It's an addictive album, one that starts from the point of "well, that's well produced" and ends up being "god, that's a really great sound" and ends where it's been for the last six months: A classic pop tour-de-nice. Never overpowered by the somewhat trendy beats that wouldn't be out of place on an early Massive Attack album, never over-sentimentalized by lyrics that wouldn't be out of place on an Aretha Franklin b-side, and never as ulterior-motivated as any of Madonna's last few "fuck you, i'm as relevant as Like A Prayer" mis-fires, Miss Diamond To You is one of those albums that, against all odds, convinced a guy who spent most of the year listening to Grinderman and William Basinski that there was still something to be said for music that's just inherently happy, joyful and, ugh to the ugh, danceable. While it's always going to take an unasked for shot of crystal meth to get this reviewer to shake his uncoordinated, yet delightfully attractive ass, Miss Diamond could make for the perfect soundtrack to that intensely tragic moment.
Nevermind. Let's put it in the now-defunct terminology of the hopeful winner of Project Runway.
Miss Diamond To You?
Shit is fierce.
-Tucker Stone, 2008