Album Review: deep tan – diamond horsetail

The Breakdown

An EP with no weak spots, which starts running and doesn’t stop until its end, perfectly comfortable with its sprinter’s pace.

Deep Tan (or rather, deep tan, as they are more correctly styled) are one of those bands that it’s really hard not to keep coming back to. Their stripped-back, almost minimalist approach speaks of a charisma and a confidence that is rarely found, and their live outings somehow manage to be oddly chill and intense at the same time, and therefore always memorable. They also have a voice that is entirely their own while referencing – more or less openly – a number of past glories, from Mogwai to Siouxsie and the Banshees, and which manages another contradiction: to not match any genre while clearly nodding to at least three or four of them. They have been described as post-punk in the past, but post-punk they are not; punk-ish might be a better definition for the way in which they incorporate elements that call back to the deepest roots of classic punk (check out those bass lines, the almost-spoken, spat-out segments of vocals, the abrasive little guitar bridges, and more) and weave them through with things entirely other, from a glimpse of acid psychedelia to something that borders garage rock. It’s a beautiful thing, a veneer of deceptive simplicity hiding a mechanism truly made of many moving parts, the precision of which is perhaps the strongest selling point of their music. It feels natural, full of immediacy, and yet underneath its surface there is an almost calculated precision that makes it tick.

All of this can be found in their newest EP, diamond horsetail, a snappy listen that manages to perfectly convey the feel of a live set; all this and a little more. Another remarkable trait of deep tan is that they have the gift of being concise without sacrificing any detail: the longest track in this EP is no longer than three minutes and a half, and yet all five songs are packed with all the things that make a record worth listening to multiple times, from the intriguing vocals to the catchy choruses, from the rippling riffs to the cleverly woven bits of noise. There is a clear thread running throughout the record, perhaps aided by its relatively short duration, that clear voice ringing through it and connecting all its many parts: while each track has a clear personality, the feeling of having listened to a whole made out of five parts, that has to be heard all at once and in the right sequence, is strong – something that in our age of jingles is often missing from newly released records. It feels almost nostalgic to find it here, but there is nothing nostalgic about the music, which is as contemporary as can be: looking back to its past inspirations, no doubt, but channeling also the same cutting, slightly ironic voice this band has always had, and which is very much a thing of our times.

A commentary on our times is quite possibly to be found in device devotion, which is, to me, the strongest track in this record, the one I keep going back to with its intriguing instrumental bridges, synchopated rhythms, and spoken-word-adjacent vocals. Speaking of instrumentals, gender expansion pack, offering a perfectly timed mid-point to the record, is an excellent example of how the peculiar voice of an artist needs not necessarily be conveyed by words: it is perhaps the best introduction to this record. Opener beginners’ krav maga and closer diamond horsetail possess the same irregularities of structure and are also the two tracks in which the punk influences are felt the strongest, providing a perfect frame for the record as a whole, which feels a bit like a snake eating its own tail. Single rudy ya ya ya is catchy and capable of latching onto one’s brain almost immediately: you’ll probably find yourself humming it under your breath on the way to work on the next day.

It is an EP with no weak spots, which starts running and doesn’t stop until its end, perfectly comfortable with its sprinter’s pace; an easy listen which will reveal more details to those who devote to it the attention it deserves; another indication, if another one was needed, that this is definitely a band to watch for the consistently intriguing output they’re producing.

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