We were able to get access to Cullen Omori's new album The Diet (Out August 17, 2018) so we are going to take some time to preview the man behind the music, give this record a listen and a thorough review, and take a look at two of the videos for the singles that are out. With that said, let's jump right in!
Cullen Omori Biography
Cullen Omori is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first rose to prominence when he formed the indie group The Smith Westerns in 2007, which he was with until 2014 before venturing out on his solo career. He started his solo career with Sub Pop with his release of New Misery which was positively received by the alt community.
The ensuing time between Omori's first solo album and second has been a difficult road. Omori had car accidents, strained relationships, and busted vans to deal with in the time between the two records. Not to mention a relocation from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Omori stated that "I named the album The Diet because to go on a diet, you cut back on certain things and regulate your intake of others. The idea that you can do that means you must have a surplus of whatever you're trying to limit. I was so emotionally and spiritually drained, and my only surplus was a bunch of negative feelings and a lot of self-loathing". Omori channeled the energy from the chaos he was experiencing in his personal life to craft the songs that would appear on the album.
Omori changed up how he approached his recording style for this record. Whereas in the past he would lock himself in a room with a producer and work away until he had a finished product, The Diet was more collaborative in nature. Omori noted "...this time around I wanted the sessions to be a revolving door of musicians: different people, different aesthetics, I wanted to open up, even though all these terrible things have happened to me. I pushed against my inner nature by actively pursuing collaborators". Omori felt this ultimately helped The Diet be a more accessible record for listeners.
The Diet Album Review
The Diet is a marvel of an album that juxtaposes melody and themes in a manner in which we have rarely seen in music. Omori is able to deliver such heart wrenching material in a manner that doesn't simply just make the listener mope, but rather invites them in through melodic music and vocal harmonies. We thoroughly enjoyed his unconventional song structures. Today we see all too often *Verse 1/Chorus/Verse 2/Same Chorus/Super Chorus/annnnnd Curtain*. Omori takes that notion and beats it to hell with his hooks, seemingly coming out of nowhere, but it still flows in a way that is organic and makes sense.
1. "Four Years" - Good indie melody with lead playing mostly clean over acoustic chords that shift between major and minor chords. Solid bridge and vocals. Vocals are reminiscent of classic rock like Beach Boys and the Beatles with the harmonies, especially on the chorus. Thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of the guitar solo and the ending section where Cullen brought it up another level! Lyrically and thematically the song is pretty dark when positioned against the bright melodies of the tune. The song explores themes of self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, depression (and the ensuing indifference it causes), and self-loathing. Omori has such a talent for juxtaposing bright melody with dark themes, that rivals that of Stephan Jenkins (of Third Eye Blind). This might even go unbeknownst to the listener if they're not looking out for such things. .
2. "Borderline Friend" - This track has a bit more of a slowed down melody to it, reminiscent of classic alt favorites Pinback. Love the structure of the song and the sudden drop into the hook, it takes the listener by surprise in a good way. Strong vocals on display here as well, again this track is more in the traditional alt genre and doesn't display the classic stylings that "Four Years" did. It's very much in theme with what Omori is building toward. The Beatles-type harmonies come back out of nowhere at the end. What a welcome addition! Lyrically, this is a love song, but not the conventional type; it reminds us of a relationship where one partner feels trapped, or the luster is gone (or was never there in the first place).
3. "All By Yourself" - This song features acoustic guitar with effects-driven vocals. The track is a solid one and slows things down a bit. However, it still doesn't come off as a sad song. It's a love song as well, but it's very much about wanting to help someone in isolation, while simultaneously struggling with mental health challen