If bands had siblings, then Lavender Diamond would be the sweeter, starry-eyed little sister of Midlake.
And that's a pretty hefty compliment for this enchanting little Angeleno band, with its cheery folky-poppy sound, weird costumes and soaring vocals from Becky Stark. Not many bands can make rich, lush chamberpop of the kind in "The Cavalry of Light."
It opens with a tripping piano melody, joined in by a tambourine and a softly plucked guitar. Mashed together, it makes a sunny, sweet little melody. And over it, Stark sings "you broke my heart" in a remarkably cheerful manner. She soars higher and higher as the song goes on, with the music flowing stolidly under her.
"Please" takes a less dramatic approach, with a warm mingling of piano and strings. 'In Heaven There is No Heat' is a catchier piece of work, with a shimmeringly simple musical accompaniment. Finally there's the exquisite "Rise in the Springtime," a rich pastoral ballad full of orchestral strings and trickling piano. "We're meant to see/the dawn of sky/and so we rise/into the sun..." Stark sings hopefully.
"The Cavalry of Light" could easily have been syrupy, cloying or kitschy. Could have been, but isn't -- probably because it sounds incredibly heartfelt, almost like a hymn rather than a pop song.
So as a result, it just sounds like a sunny day out with friends in the countryside, enjoying the beauty of the world.The music has lots of piano, soaring strings and a ripple of guitar; the melodies are simple, but that is part of their charm.
Stark's voice is really a treasure -- high, sweet, and childlike, but with a glorious range. Even better, she can sing lines like, "Dream the kind of life that you will find/ That kind of love that lasts forever" without sounding twee.
Lavender Diamond is an exquisite little band, with their springtime folk-chamberpop sound. Keep your eye on this one.