While some contentedly dig out baggy plaid shirts, oddly-fitting double denim and DM boots for musical inspiration, Lemonade are plundering a very different kind of ‘90s for this sumptuous second offering. Stuff Kurt: this NY trio have been down the sonic thrift store with Kindness, picking up R’n'B, Balearic house and UK 2-step garage 12 inches and mixing these chipper beats with a tropical tinge and introspective tales of modern woe.
There’s something very cocktails-by-the-pool about the cascading synths’ shimmer, tinkling pianos, big slick basslines and tripping and tumbling rhythms of Diver. It’s crammed full of what oversexed smooth creeps might call “slow jamz”. We prefer epic, trotting beat-fuelled soul with the occasional marimba solo. ‘Infinite Style’ unfolds into a frenzy of rattling drums; speeding up and then slowing down to nothing as Callan Clendenin croons, “Does it seem like something is wrong to you? I’m trying to be someone and this time I can’t bring you along”. It’s as melancholy and eerie as it is danceable and makes for a thundering opener.
‘Neptune’ continues at a similar measured pace, its story of infidelity peppered with steel drum breaks and stabs of keys. “I think that I hurt you, I kissed her, you kissed him too” Clendenin sings before pleading, “Let me speak to you so I can show you all I want is to sort this out”. ‘Ice Water’ and ‘Big Changes’ are different beasts altogether, propelled by punchy rave keys, soulful vocals and bass drops and beats so booming they’ll have David Guetta looking over his shoulder and Nicki Minaj threatening to spit rhymes over their euphoric climaxes. Ibiza emo and angst in the club.
And while tormented Lemonade on uppers is an exciting prospect it’s when the trio trot out the 2-step tip tap of ‘Whitecaps’, the slowed-down So Solid of ‘Sister’ and ‘Sinead’’s twinkling harps and scratchy playful synths that they really surprise and subsequently excel. It gets better though; the brooding ‘Vivid’, complete with unsettling samples of Prometheus-worthy alien lamb cry, is nestled between them, and it’s this gorgeous mid-record run of successive inventive pop cuts that shows what Lemonade are now capable of.
Smartly pairing with Frankie Rose, Fischerspooner and SSION producer Le Chev, Diver finds this NY outfit vastly developed from their early hedonistic beginnings and having created an affecting ten tracks that would sit nicely dragged and dropped next to favourites from Sade, Julio Bashmore, Dante and PM Dawn and could just as easily cater for pre, mid and post-club listening. From bombast and frenzy to the wistful “It’s 5am, don’t know how I got here again” of graceful ballad ‘Eye Drops’, Lemonade have figured out that the best stuff comes from exploring both the highs and the lows.