Colin Dieden writes about a plethora of little hurts scarring the songs on his new Alt.Pop solo project album, Lovely Hours. The sanguine disappointments of everyday life, the internalized pressures of wrestling with identity, and cure-alls for emotional maladies that ultimately prove transient and superficial. The songs he’s written for Lovely Hours lay his little hurts bare. He never flinches from examining each of them.
As Little Hurt, the former front man of The Mowgli’s has big hurts as well. Lovely Hours tackles those as well with the same bravery and ruthless honesty. The ten-song release deals a lot with catharsis. It’s one of those collections that the artist in question had to write and record.
Leading off with an album’s title song is almost always a statement of purpose, a show of confidence. “Lovely Hours” has an effervescent pop bounce, and its light-footed line of attack gets under your skin from the outset. The redemptive, even joyful, slant of the music creates a compelling juxtaposition with the song’s “dark night of the soul” lyrics as Dieden’s dissolute heartbreak over lost love leads the way. The chorus is the song’s unquestioned high point.
“Get Out of My Life” has dark humor laced into its lyrics. The predominant emotion, however, is unmitigated disgust and anger. It boasts one of the album’s best opening couplets. Dieden sings, “You’re calling me sweetheart/and then I’m calling the cops” and things disintegrate from there. Hyper-charged drumming and guitar propel the song, but Dieden brings ample energy as well to the performance.
The underlying confessional singer/songwriter aesthetic of Lovely Hours is one of its greatest strengths. This tendency continues asserting itself with “Modern Art”. Listeners will be hard-pressed to find any sentimentality in Dieden’s lyrics. This is love and songwriting in the trenches, full of jagged edges and too much stimuli, but clashing with pop-minded polish. The contrasts generate palpable tension and Dieden’s voice crowns it with wild-eyed emotion.
“I Can Do Better Than You” is a classic kiss-off song. Dieden unleashes his best rock ‘n’ roll voice, a full-flight dismissal dripping with disdain. It’s a measure of his artistry, however, that heartbreak lurks behind songs such as this – he’s fully invested in his former romantic partner, or this song wouldn’t exist in the first place. The brisk pace of the music pairs well with his vocals. This lead single from the album soars even higher thanks to a colorful and action-packed video. Awash in hazy psychedelic-like shades of red, yellow, pink, green, and blue, Dieden and his band give physical life to the song. The visuals cover more ground, however, and the concluding image of Dieden alone in a dark room underlines the heartbreak at the song’s core.
“Pineapple Pizza” is another song in that vein. It’s one of the cleverest lyrical turns on Lovely Hours as Dieden uses his dubious choice in pizza toppings as a metaphor for the nitpicking and decay characterizing a toxic failed relationship. His vocal phrasing fills the words with added venom without ever repelling listeners.
Dieden’s Little Hurt persona delivers music with an engaging pop sensibility and an alternative rock edge.