Diners | Domino Review
by Griff Stevens
In the ever-fluid indie rock world, where nostalgia coexists with innovation, Diners’ sixth album, Domino, occupies a compelling crossroads. Released under the Bar None Records label and produced by Mo Troper, the album offers a confluence of influences—ranging from mid-century rock ‘n’ roll to millennial indie pop—that cohere into something fresh and reminiscent. What distinguishes Domino from Diners’ earlier works is its audacious tilt towards a more edgy rock sound, departing from their typically mellow bedroom pop vibes. While their last album, Four Wheels and the Truth, offered mere hints of this stylistic evolution, Domino marks a full-fledged embrace of this new sonic realm.
The album was recorded at the Trash Treasury recording studio in Portland, OR, and then given the professional touch of mixing and mastering by Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden in Oakland, CA. The artwork by Nicolette Dolan adds another layer of indie credibility to the release. With Blue Broderick taking on the lead vocals and handling a variety of instruments, and Mo Troper and Brenden Ramirez filling out the soundscape, the musicianship is as versatile as it is refined.
Opening with “Working On My Dreams,” the album announces its intentions with a robust, crunchy guitar part that sits nicely in the space between indie-rock and power pop. The track’s architecture reveals a commitment to sharp songwriting, defined by an interesting vocal counterpoint in the chorus and a bridge that refreshes the overall structure. Most notably, Troper’s subtle touch on the distortion knob enriches the track’s textures, giving it a sonic heft that evolves as the song progresses.
The title track, “Domino,” is an ode to classic Beatles influences, captured impeccably through vocal harmonies and semi-hollow body guitar sounds. The layered vocal harmonies offer a nostalgic touch without surrendering to mere imitation, and the clarity in production ensures that each layer shines through.
“So What” and “Someday I’ll Go Surfing” are effervescent songs that draw from the ’60s rock lexicon while incorporating contemporary nuances. Notably, “So What” employs a leaping, serpentine melody set over a galloping snare pattern that keeps listeners hooked. “The Power,” the album’s lead single, mixes in Southern rock elements that diversify the tonal palette of the album. Although compacted into less than three minutes, the song’s progression feels like a journey.
“Painted Pictures” and “I Don’t Think About You The Way I Used To” follow suit, marrying the past with the present through dynamic shifts, carefully crafted solos, and rich vocal textures. “From My Pillow” switches gears with Broderick exploring her mid to upper vocal register, imbuing the track with a different timbral quality.
The album concludes with “Your Eyes Look Like Christmas” and “Wisdom,” the former being a poignant, piano-driven ballad that cuts to the emotional core, and the latter a country-rock-inspired finale that feels like a satisfying end to a well-crafted musical journey.
Domino pays homage to vintage and modern influences while focusing on elements that make indie pop/rock so enduring—strong melodies, intricate vocal harmonies, and concise songwriting. It represents a pinnacle in Diners’ evolving sound, fully realizing what had been hinted at in their previous works. Above all, it confirms that the best musical eras are not behind us but are continuously reimagined and brought to life by artists who dare to push boundaries while respecting tradition.
Release Date: August 18, 2023
Label: Bar None Records