Songwriter Tyler Broderick has a knack for discussing big themes in a small way.
"I've been here before / And I'll be here again," he sings on "Wide Range," the opening song from Always Room, his second album with pop outfit Diners. It's a line True Detective's Rust Cohle might spit, but Broderick delivers it with the melodic grace of the Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra, or Big Star.
There are couplets like this -- at once sweeping in scope and minute in detail -- all over Always Room. The band's first record, Throw Me a Ten, was a charming, smartly executed introduction, but Always Room makes good on all the promise and potential of that record.
"I learned a lot about songwriting and production while working on Throw Me a Ten. It was a blast to take a new batch of songs and apply that knowledge," Broderick explains via e-mail.
The album's styles and moods are many: "Citrus" recasts Fleetwood Mac's '70s pomp as scrappy pop punk; "Could Be Real" is pure romance, with warped synths and skittered percussion adding to its lightheaded groove; "Cool Kids" is patiently funky, a make-out jam about sincerity vs. oppressive indie rock irony.
All the while, Broderick explores big feelings in the close-ups. "If it's so gigantic, how can you live it?" he sings on the album's cresting closer, "Overcasters," concluding, "I was not humbled by its size, I was afraid of what it could do to me."
Broderick says extensive work with producer Jalipaz at Audioconfusion Studios had much do with the album's expansive sound, and is quick to credit its massive cast of players, including members of iji, Logan Greene, and Dogbreth, the punk band Broderick also plays in. The crossover goes both ways: Dogbreth singer/guitarist Tristan Jemsek plays drums in Diners, and the duo's creative partnership proved a source of inspiration for the new record.
"He'll write a killer Dogbreth song and it'll get me jazzed to write a new Diners song," Broderick says, noting their shared appreciation of classic rock like Tom Petty, Black Sabbath, and Neil Young. "We'll show each other parts and help each other flesh out songs until we're happy with them."
Broderick is hesitant to "spill the beans on song meanings," but there's no denying the way Always Room evokes the feeling of traveling, of being inspired by new sights and new friends. Tellingly, he wrote much of the record on tour with Dogbreth and Diners.
"I would say that any lyric that you'd guess is about touring is probably directly or indirectly about touring," Broderick says. "It's really easy for me to write on tour. There's something surreal about that kind of traveling that's really mystical to me. Whether it's driving through gorgeous scenery or getting to see and play with an awesome band, it's definitely a place for inspiration."
Diners' tour kick-off show is scheduled for Thursday, July 3 at Trunk Space.
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