Foreign/National have hit a stroke of genius with this one. Their latest single Diamond Mine is a funky groove that swells, dips, and bends, unwinding the band’s traditionally lo-fi psych-pop sound through different tones and colours. However, the track is a production, a crafted masterpiece which elevates the music well beyond its sonic qualities.
Diamond Mine fosters a storybook visualisation of the old day’s toil, only to break it in two by singing of today’s corporate greed and the moral corruption of privilege.
Melbourne psych-pop masterminds Foreign/National have curated a collage of social conscience, caricatured nostalgia, and unfurling sonic brilliance in their latest single. Diamond Mine uses the past as its weapon against the injustices of the present.
Written in Berlin and recorded between Aireys Inlet and Los Angeles, Diamond Mine will be the second track on the band’s upcoming sophomore album The Garden. The Melbourne psych-reformists collaborated with the talents of Casey Harnett (Sui Zhen, Dreamin’ Wild), Jarvis Taveniere (King Gizzard, Real Estate) and Andrei Eremin (Chet Faker, Tones and I), to craft a collection of socially conscious yet self-referential tracks.
To most, the name Diamond Mine would conjure images of a weather-beaten quarry from the Old West. Metal carts on rusted tracks, a wood-framed doorway carved through a towering cliff face, leading deep into the possibilities of an undiscovered fortune. The track paints this flavour right from the get-go. Rattlesnake-esque percussion bites, earthy bongos, breezy drums and a blistering bass, that feels like it could fade away at any moment.
However, it doesn’t take long for this glisten of sunlight to turn into a searing summers day. As the band begins their criticism of society’s power players, the nostalgic soundscape that they spent the last 30 seconds creating is slowly ground to a fine powder. It is still there, but you can no longer see it as it once was.
“The Garden is more focused on the negative behaviours and hypocrisy we see in public figures – business leaders, politicians, the clergy and, of course, entitled men,” frontman Mark Gage (vox, guitar, synth, keys) said about the track. “When writing it, we were all listening to a lot of afrobeat and Ethio-jazz and were keen to inject elements from those genres into our somewhat traditional pop sound.”
Foreign/National both condemn and self-assess on this track, acknowledging their inherent privilege through the motif, “so sorry, excuse me, but when did my life become so bourgie?” Yet, Diamond Mine still feels so organic, slowly layering itself to support vocals, strings and the weight of their lyricism. With bass and rustic percussion as its stem, the single unfurls over its 5-minute span. Flowering in the sweltering heat of guitar descents, deceptively soft vocals and instruments not often found in the band’s corner of music.
While their traditional psychedelic flavour still seeps in through electric rises and neon arpeggios, Diamond Mine marks a new era for Foreign/National. One where music is used as a tool of dissonance, harmony and evaluation, as opposed to the band’s tradition of self-introspection.
Their new single is a double entendre, in the most dignified sense of the phrase. A documentary of symbolism so carefully crafted that its power lies in its subtlety.
Listen to Diamond Mine above. The Garden is slated for release on May 29th.