You’re touring the most lauded recording studio and in-house songwriting shop in the known universe, the βrill Building. The name is an homage to the original Brill Building from the early American 1900’s on planet Earth, but that’s ancient history to you. You’re here because βrill, as it’s fondly known, is opening its doors to a select few from the public to experience a live show unlike any other. You enter the auditorium and sit near the front. The curtain rises . . .
Prepare yourself for an onslaught of tight songs. City of Quartz is the second full-length from Nick “Diamonds” Thorburn, who previously (although many, including myself, are hoping dearly for new material) made contributions as frontman of The Unicorns. That lovely group’s most celebrated record, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, is one of my favorites, and I’m pleased to say that this album succeeds lofty expectations.
Thorburn’s responsible for all the sounds present in these pieces of music, making him a sort of one-man band from another planet. He experiments with oddball tones and textures like a seasoned pro, but never allows his synthetic surroundings to lead him astray from his jangly-pop tendencies. The contrast between manufactured instrumentation and earthy, grounded songwriting is fresh and surprisingly natural.
During the few times that Thorburn decides to color outside his trademark lines, the results are just as charming; “I’m Nobody,” with its psychedelic fuzz house and samples of Charlie Manson, is the most notable example. Each of these wonderfully-compact songs is an earworm that can only be removed by the song following it. If you’re seeking classic songwriting with unique, synthesized instrumentation, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)