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Diamonds and Death

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Album Review

A common complaint about VHS or Beta is that they tend to pay homage rather than innovate. For their 2011 release Diamonds & Death, Craig Pfunder and Mark Palgy still sound blissfully ignorant of the present trends, but instead of referencing Daft Punk house, Killers dance punk, or Duran Duran arena pop gloss, they dig deeper into ‘80s dance, Hi-NRG, and Euro-pop. Depeche Mode and Erasure were notable influences on Bring on the Comets, and they are referenced even more obviously here. In the four years between this album and the last, the duo became less focused on crafting singles. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2009, the two spent a lot of their free time DJing clubs, and the album shows their newfound appreciation for long, absent-minded, nocturnal beats. Bright synth tones and a robotic thump (courtesy of programming and drummer Jim Orso) drive Diamonds & Death's entire running time. At the high points, the record succeeds in being very danceable, especially on the instrumental “Jellybean,” but it is also more of an indistinct listen than a clever one.


Formed: 1997 in Louisville, KY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

VHS or Beta formed in 1997 in Louisville, Kentucky, when bassist Mark Palgy and guitarists Zeke Buck and Craig Pfunder met after high school. After a brief stint with noise punk and the addition of drummer Mark Guidry, they re-formed in response to their love of house music, soul, and disco. The new sound, enhanced by keyboards, vocoder, samples, and electronic drums, eventually brought in hundreds of dancing people at their shows. Soon, the band released the vinyl-only EP ON & ON. After playing...
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Diamonds and Death, VHS or Beta
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