Girl in a Coma frontwoman Nina Diaz unloads an audacious debut comprised of thirteen take-no-prisoners pop and rock tracks that feature her emotional, and at times viscerally moving, songwriting skills. The Beat Is Dead is Nina’s first collection as a solo performer, and at just over fifty minutes in length it feels at times like a monster in duration for an album of this style. Fortunately, Diaz’s full-throated, flinty vocals are a perfect fit for these songs that deal with relationships, substance abuse, and mortality.
The earliest songs on The Beat Is Dead are immediately infectious, enticing the listener to move to catchy, retro beats, and synths that appropriately enhance Diaz’s in-your-face delivery. Deeper into the record, the tracks begin to vary slightly. Nina displays a more vulnerable side with the songs “Fall in Love” and “January 9th” wherein she heartbreakingly emotes, “I don’t want to be the bad one, I don’t want to be the sad one that you find.”
The first half of The Beat Is Dead’s second side doesn’t deviate much from the record’s initial handful of tracks. “Screaming Without a Sound” builds tension with a driving guitar before erupting into its explosive chorus. The album’s final three songs, however, find Diaz digging deep in order to impressively dredge emotional tones more characteristic of a blues singer, concluding with the stripped down “Mortician’s Musician”.
Overall, the songs on The Beat Is Dead maintain a consistent quality, both in craft and production, throughout. Due to the duration of an album of this type, impatient listeners would be advised to invest time and live with the record in order to fully appreciate its full breadth and varied charms.