Nick Diamonds, aka Nick Thorton, is the Canadian born songster partially responsible for the likes of Th’ Corn Gangg, Islands, Human Highway and most recently the much heralded Mister Heavenly, which featured actor Michael Cera on bass while they toured. As oft happens with a la mode musician vocalists, it seems likely he came out with a solo record because he had some ideas he needed to get out, but he knew they wouldn’t gain much popularity (for example the recent solo album by Alexander Ebert of The Magnetic Zeros).
I Am An Attic is a somber journey through Nick Diamond’s sardonic wit. It is a witty wit, and a mellifluous wit, but the songs on the record operate at a leisurely pace, not that he’s slow witted. There’s plenty of interesting synthesizer sounds going on, and even some theramin, but not much of the ecstatic keys you’ll find with his psych-pop band The Unicorns.
This album may be Diamond’s way of coming to terms with turning 30, a hard age to turn, not nearly as kind as 29, though perhaps less perilous than turning 40. On “Used to Be Funny” Diamonds recalls all of the things he used to have and used to be: money, beauty, energy, and of course funny. He has an interesting cadence when he sings, a sixteenth note lilt between phrases which gives an introspective quality to the lyrics.
There are no recycled ideas here, but I did hear a number of other indie bands which may have influenced him. Most notably Noel Gallagher on “Dream Dream Dream” and a great deal of They Might Be Giants throughout, though they may be before his time. On “The Vaccine,” a song which made me wonder what the vaccine was and what it was for and kind of wish I had some, I also heard Cake.
He is a capable vocalist, which is especially evident on “Don’t Do Us Any Favors,” a song that I took to be a sort of political dirge. “That was your neighbor/it was harmless behavior,” he sings. It is more sorrowful than angry, as is “You Must Be Choking,” a song about a dead friend. Diamonds obviously has suffered loss, like the rest of us, and perhaps after processing it through I Am An Attic (think repository for sepia tinged memories) he’ll be able to move beyond it.