Cindy Lee: Diamond Jubilee [Album Review]

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Cindy Lee
Diamond Jubilee
Realistik Studios [2024]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Album Overview: Cindy Lee’s Diamond Jubilee is a sprawling and excellent self-released album comprising 32 songs that span two hours. It’s the brainchild of Patrick Flegel, known for their work with the Canadian post-punk band Women. Women released two solid albums, with the last being in 2010, before several other members moved on to form Preoccupations. Flegel, adopting the persona of Cindy Lee, ventured into a realm of ethereal rock’n’roll and has stayed productive as this seventh record features an array of indie music happenings. Even with Diamond Jubilee’s extreme length, the album never feels too long, thanks to its timeless appeal and instrumental nuances around every corner, drenched with a ghostly ambiance.

Musical Style: Diamond Jubilee traverses a kaleidoscope of musical styles, from classic lo-fi bedroom recording styles to orchestrated rock, swaying desert-type psychedelia to stylistic synths. Flegel’s musical palette is eclectic, drawing on influences from various decades and genres, yet unified by a haunting and dreamlike quality.

Evolution of Sound: Flegel’s musical journey with Cindy Lee represents a departure from their post-punk roots with Women, embracing a more experimental and genre-bending approach that culminates here. The album showcases a progression towards a highly crafted sound, blending elements of pop songwriting with a hazy effect that often feels like Cindy Lee is performing live from the next room with really good sound proofing between you and the artist. Distant but yet present which really works on Diamond Jubilee.

Artists with Similar Fire: Cindy Lee’s Diamond Jubilee evokes shades of early Guided by Voices, where new lo-fi ideas and transitions came quickly. Diamond Jubilee can turn on a dime, and its solid combination of artistic instrumentation with melody also gives off some Yo La Tengo vibes. Cindy Lee has an imaginative blend of nostalgic references and ethereal atmospheres, but I also hear the soft vocals reminiscent of Whitney, retro flashes of Michael Rault, the risk-taking approach of Ty Segall, and the always nimble and unexpected music of Deerhunter.

Pivotal Tracks: Standout tracks on Diamond Jubilee include “Kingdom Come,” with its bright guitar lines and uncanny timelessness, and “Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong,” a gut-wrenching spacious crawler with intertwining themes of music and loss. The opening title track is also a nice introduction with its warm 70’s psychedelic vocal and pleasant rhythm that gives you no clue where the album is going next but builds excitement! Other notable tracks include the upbeat psych in “Stone Faces,” the melancholic foot-tapper “If You Hear Me Crying,” and the upbeat attitude that oozes from “Flesh and Blood.” “Durham City Limits” near the end of the album extends beyond 5 minutes and uses all of its time to display a lo-fi blues picking. Eventually, it features a fantastic strolling guitar run transition around the 4-minute mark that propels you along with the track.

Lyrical Strength: Flegel’s songwriting on Diamond Jubilee explores themes of love, loss, and memory, often connecting images of music with personal reflections. The lyrics are emotionally evocative, with recurring motifs of melody and memory, conveying a sense of longing and nostalgia throughout the album. Flegel offers so much material here that you might think it would be easy to get lost, but their lyrics pull you directly into the Diamond Jubilee world, which you will not want to leave!

Bandcamp | Realistik Studios

Christopher Anthony
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