Leisure World is the latest album from singer-songwriter Tyler Blue Broderick, who performs with the project Diners. Not only is it the most eclectic and ambitious album in the songwriter’s (already muscular) catalog to date—it’s one of the catchiest, most realized indie pop records released in years.
Like all of their work, Leisure World—which Broderick scrapped and rerecorded several times before landing on an aesthetic they found satisfactory—draws on the most enduring aspects of pop’s past. Its 13 tracks bring to mind the technicolored melodies of ‘60s pop icons like the Beatles and Zombies, the chilled-out pop proficiency of Laurel Canyon legends like Carole King, and the wry, observational story-telling of Jonathan Richman, and, to cite a more recent artist, Jens Lekman.
But Leisure World isn’t merely a puree of a record store clerk archetype’s most coveted possessions; like all the best pop music, it gleefully somersaults across the bridge connecting the past and future, and much of Broderick’s instrumentation and lyrics feel planted firmly in the present. These are bite-sized, mid-fi symphonies replete with glorious Omichord sweeps, second-hand synths, and layers of sun-kissed vocal harmony. For every scratchy deep cut like “Big Times,” there’s a song like “There’s a Time”—a surefire college radio hit and essential addition to any bedroom pop enthusiast’s spring playlist. Another album highlight is “Cup Of Coffee,” which evokes both the jangling, literate jazz-pop of Prefab Sprout and the dense headphone pop of Point-era Cornelius. (It also contains some of Broderick’s finest lyrics on the album.)
Leisure World arrives at a somewhat tumultuous time in Broderick’s life. Originally from Phoenix, Broderick briefly relocated to Los Angeles, before settling in Oakland this past summer. The record was recorded amidst relentless DIY tours and shows with Diners and a bulk of side gigs, including Broderick’s commitments to the Ned Flanders metal band Okilly Dokilly and songwriting collaborations with artists like Chris Farren. (The co-written “Space In Yr Love” recently surfaced on Farren’s latest solo album, Born Hot.)
Despite that, Leisure World is a not a cynical or even tired-sounding record. This is maybe best exemplified by the album’s penultimate track, “Thanks For Listening,” which is gobsmacking in its warmth and earnestness. Performed by anyone other than Diners, “Thanks For Listening”—which the band closed every show with when I toured with them this past spring—would scan sardonic. But I can say with almost complete certainty that Tyler is being serious, which is a beautiful thing. They love the attention, but they also realize they’d be nothing without the people who love them and their music. Nobody’s perfect, but Tyler Blue Broderick might be DIY’s perfect Leo.
Diners - "Leisure World"4/24/2020
Walter Etc. / Diners - "Split"5/12/2017
Diners - "Throw Me a Ten"10/21/2016