It’s become a tradition for big independent labels to release a pre-album EP upon signing an exciting new act. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense: It ensures the press won’t be blindsided by a full-length from an unfamiliar group. But the shelf life of these EPs is more questionable. Love of Diagrams, the four track stopgap from the Aussie three-piece of the same name, plays well as a separate entity, showcasing a rough-and-tumble art-punk sound. That doesn’t mean anyone will still be interested in it after the band’s Matador debut, Mosaic, hits stores in April.
The first two tracks come from the Mosaic sessions, overseen by former Volcano Suns member and Steve Albini cohort Bob Weston. Opener “Pace or the Patience” has two gears: run or sprint. Angular feedback-soaked guitar and guy-girl vocal interruption give it the feel of a better-than-usual Rogers Sisters song. Non-album track “The Pyramid” has more of a Pixies tone, with Luke Horton playing Joey Santiago to Antonia Sellbach’s Deal-ish “oh-oh-oh-oh” cascade. The goth-pop sound of the chorus takes the wayback machine a few years further, landing roughly at 1985.
The disc is rounded out with a cover of “Cool,” a no-wave non-hit from the early-’80s Athens band Pylon. Good covers can come either from a band recognizing an oldie that fits perfectly into its aesthetic or warping an unlikely cut to match its vision. “Cool” is the former. Although the murkiness of the live performance falls a shade below the original’s awesome minimalism, this faithful rendition sits comfortably beside the other spiky offerings. But the re-release of the band’s previous single, “No Way Out,” is the best song here. The tightest guitar work on the EP is matched with the most insistent bass line and the brattiest call-and-response vocals. It’s a cool, distinctive sound that just misses sounding like a legitimate hit (although the music director of The O.C. clearly disagreed).
As a hype primer for Mosaic, this EP does what it has to do, but it doesn’t do much more. A sound is established, hip reference points are made, and it goes out on a high note. The songs are perfectly good, if not persistently memorable. In other words, it won’t mandate a calendar to mark the days until the full-length, but the list of bands to keep an eye on just got one name longer.