Diva In A Yellow Tank (LP)

Sunshine pop from the Sunshine State have never sounded more luminous: Hailing from South Florida, Diva In A Yellow Tank (a delightfully inscrutable monicker that may or not be the result of the members playing one of those “pick a noun… next an adjective… and then another noun…” naming games) conjures fresh images of classic New Wave acts like Elvis Costello and Squeeze as well as such Paisley Underground icons as the Three O’Clock and early Green On Red. Vocalist/keyboardist DL Mandell, guitarist Dean Anthon, bassist Marissa Mandell, and drummer Bryan David Johnson have an instinctive grasp on how to fuse earworm melodies, sweet harmonies, and kickin’ beats—and, yes, before you ask, they even have a song titled “Sunny Day,” which chugs along merrily via surging organ (Farfisa, perhaps?), la-la-la vocals, thrumming bass, and four-to-the-floor drums.

Other highlights? “Burnt Toast” is an obvious standout, rife with twisty chord changes and back-and-forth tempo shifts that bring to mind vintage XTC; “Trouble In My Mind,” swaggering and sassy, triggering the aforementioned Costello notion; the quirky, garagey psych-pop of “Lost and Found”; and “Always There,” with its sing-songy vocal motif. It would probably do a disservice to definitely peg the band as “retro,” because the quartet doesn’t seem particularly interested in songwriting via template. Rather, given how Mandell’s organ is the dominant instrument here, and the way the harmonies also behave texturally in the songs’ arrangements, it’s impossible not to think of earlier artists who rely on a similar approach. And one thing is guaranteed: These folks are surely a ton of fun in concert, capable of turning a crowded club into a smiling, bouncing-up-and-down mass.

Fred Mills