It’s almost not fair how much fun the Diskettes’ debut LP, No Fair, No Fun can be.
The past year has been a blur and vastly confounding. Long stretches of time seemed to go by at a glacial and frenetic pace all at once. Yes, I’m talking about the pandemic again, but the Diskettes were forged in the fires of quarantine, and the repeatedly chopped and disassembled sounds of No Fair, No Fun perfectly mirror the chaos of this past year (and, here’s hoping, not too many more years).
The Diskettes draw inspiration from 60s girl groups, but the foursome repeatedly makes a Picasso painting out of their pop and rock sounds, attaching seemingly disparate ideas together into a seamlessly addictive album. A dip into the waters of reggae with kaleidoscopic opener “Ragg-Splicer” does not even begin to reflect the Diskettes’ overall sound. “Moon Transit” is a gorgeous synth-infused trip to space that turns into a warm rock instrumental. “Storms” begins spooky and dramatic, briefly visiting grunge, and then jetting off with some delicious percussive groove while unexpected horns add honey to the already rich bass groove of “Careful My Love”.
No Fair, No Fun is a collection of lovelorn songs, but the narrator of these songs never seems to be entirely sure love is possible. The most explicitly 60s-influenced songs, “Not the Same” and “Brave,” are classic pining songs, but there’s something sinister in “Brave”. The lyrics acknowledge the relationship can’t work out, but the narrator seems to need to plow ahead regardless. In “Creature Feature,” the narrator wants desperately to cling to relationship, but eventually acknowledges “love will leave you,” with the lyrics “Don’t turn away from me” eventually changing to “Just turn away from me.”
Perhaps love has been warped just as much as our minds have been thanks to the pandemic, and the oftentimes abstract thoughts in these songs are punctuated with delightfully out-of-left-field instrumental choices. The simple repeating notes that back “Sir Flustercuck” (early contender for song title of the year) suddenly get overwhelmed by a killer guitar solo. “Ragg-Splicer” oozes with confidence thanks to Christine Joyce Lam’s no-nonsense delivery, and the inescapable backing groove occasionally softens with a flourish of synth. The ever-shifting percussion is the low-key MVP of the album, with skeletal tapping in songs like “Careful My Love” and full-on cowbell on “Storms”.
The pandemic has often been no fair and no fun, but it’s almost not fair how much fun the Diskettes’ No Fair, No Fun can be.