Sunset Diver is the underwater psychedelic pop project of Brooklyn-based Devin Johnson, and he just released a new album (and physical cassette tape, if buying music is your thing) on NYC collective/label Capitalist Records.
Expanding on the tracks of the earlier “Sea Turtle EP,” “Red Diamond Tattoo” conjures up many novel textures and welcome nostalgia-feels which all seem to come from a mystical underwater place (if not another plane entirely). As is true for any good album, there’s a good variety in feel (“Tag Along” is a driving space trek disguised as a chillwave meditation, whereas “Cannibal Girl” is a beach vibe somehow evocative of the ringing guitar grooves and haunting vocal melodies of early-to-mid-career Atlas Sound) as well as an underlying coherence to the sequence of tracks and material covered therein (it opens with the ambient “Sunrise Bikeride” and closes with a “Jet Ski,” implying a sort of motion to and from the mystical land of Sunset Diver). It’s the kind of music that makes you want to close your eyes and let things just wash over you, and also apparently the sort of album which reists my attempts to form coherent strings of sentences about it.
My only point of constructive criticism is that the vocals could be approached with more of the same subtlety characteristic of the instrumental tracks; where the synths and guitars are pretty, lilting and precisely layered, the vocals seem a touch too forward and blatantly soaked in delay (“Sea Turtle” is the culprit here). Despite my nitpicking, however, the intended effect (‘cinematic island music,’ ‘beach beats’) is achieved comfortably and pleasantly. Tracks with established grooves also seem to be the high points of the album for me – being spaced out is nice, but you don’t realize how far gone you are until you’ve been brought back to earth with some percussion and bass grooves. All in all, a fun and pleasant listening experience, and I’m looking forward to hearing more.