Sweden’s Diamond Dogs are back. For this I think you’ll agree we should give heartfelt thanks, even before we’ve heard a note of their new full-length effort, About The Hardest Nut To Crack.
Of course, you know as well as I do that there’s no big risk to that action. Sulo Karlsson and company simply never make duff records and, in these increasingly dark times, I can’t ever imagine a time when the band’s heartfelt brand of feelgood rock n’roll won’t be welcome on the Sentinel Daily Office Stereo. Thirty years after they exploded on MTV screens across Europe, an irresistible mix of the Black Crowes, Hanoi and the Quireboys, Diamond Dogs still know how to deliver the goods – and then some.
They’ve matured, of course, bypassing those names mentioned in the last paragraph and drinking ever more deeply from older wells, but the spirit, the spark remains, embedded for ever in Karlsson’s timeless brilliance as a songwriter and the whole band’s ability to translate his vison in to living, breathing – and more importantly dancing – flesh.
But enough of the hyperbole, and back to this remarkable slab o’wax that’s gyrating noisily out of the speakers in the corner. From first note to last, Diamond Dogs will shake your very soul on this impossible-to-deny album. Only eighteen months ago they released a sumptuous, sprawling double album, Slap Bang Blue Rendezvous, that seemed to encapsulate the band’s career within it’s grooves in nigh-on perfect fashion; Here, they go further, taking the best bits of those thirty years and reducing them to pure essence. But in the process of that reduction they’ve actually expanded the sound, enlarged the palette. It’s no exaggeration to say that the three songs that form the fulcrum of the album, Down on Debris Field, Only A Whim and Desiree, Yet Another Lonely Mile stand as some of the best the band has recorded.
That’s some claim I know but please humour me; I was lucky enough to hear rough production mixes of this album a few months ago, and remarked to Karlsson that I felt some of his best vocal performances ever are to be found here, in those three tracks, especially on the battered and broken balladeering of Only A Whim, and now having lived with the finished versions for just as long, I’m happy to say I was right. For a band to still delight and excite with new material, after this long, is a some trick to be able to pull off, but that’s just what the band have managed to do here. Lars Karlsson is in exemplary six string form here, low slung n’loose but tight as the proverbial as he brings back glorious memories of names like Wood and Cregan with his mesmeric playing – and then of course there is the peerless ivory tinkling of The Duke of Honk, who positively burns up the keys with some bravura performances all over the record. Honk is as much a cornerstone of the DD sound as Sulo, and it’s an absolute joy to hear the two old chums in such scintillating form here.
Recorded in an astonishing SIX DAYS between Christmas and New Year 2022, About The Hardest Nut To Crack is everything you want from a gutsy, sincere rock n’roll band at the height of their game. You’re all gonna love wallowing in this one, believe me…
About The Toughest Nut To Crack releases on September 29th.