On the aptly titled Diagrams Without Instructions, Thomas Lunch offers listeners a lavish buffet of a set, but like dining in an exotic land, one is presented with a plethora of unidentifiable dishes. Even the song titles are little help, as they only occasionally reflect the themes or lyrics. "I can't stop, I can't stop, just in it," Lunch shouts out on the infectious "Fire Puppy," a song that thankfully has nothing to do with arsonist canines or self-immolating dogs, but does throw the listener straight into the center of his warped world. Everything about this album is wonderfully askew, and even if it's a touch self-indulgent here and there, that's forgivable considering the fevered creativity brimming within. The incendiary "Puppy" is probably the least so of the bunch, tipping a rather large hat to Filter. "You Are My Drug" floats by on wisps of NIN, Fad Gadget, Bauhaus, and more, but even that gives little hint of what's yet to come. The synth-pop-gone-mad first half of "Tater Tots & Robots" (great title that!), the rockabilly-tinged "I Love You When You Throw a Fit," the off-kilter post-pop-punk "Leonard Nimoy," the country- pickin' "Hybrid Seed Corn," the synth-emo "Very Elbow," the big rock "Mr. Man," and the lushly pretty ballad "Beginnings" (which counterintuitively closes the set) excitedly jostle for your attention. Quite a number of them are quirky, driving or jagged by turn, and boasting lyrics to make your head spin, but many are also snagged with big hook-laden choruses and infectious rhythms. It's a wild ride, and even without any signposts you'll be glad you made the trip.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene