Diane Coffee, better known as Shaun Fleming, has an impressive CV. The artist has held a career working with Disney as an actor, and performed with Foxygen as a percussionist. Hoping to broaden the fan base, Coffee went to work on a new album, before realizing two tracks stood out as unique and worth listening to on their own-–the result is called, Peel.
For a sudden, two track release, Peel is surprisingly but appropriately boisterous. Shaun Fleming’s history as a Disney performer is evident. Both tracks are highly thematic –embracing a Rocky Horror Picture Show level of theatrics.
Peel’s “Poor Man Dan,” spurs the album with some Motown horns. As Coffee’s vocals flood inward, the mood takes an atmospheric shift. A slew of instruments join together, forming a psychedelic, jangle orchestra. It’s a track worthy of a Broadway stage, but simultaneously suffers from ADD. It’s as if Coffee couldn’t pin a single inspiration for the track –the highly distorted guitar solo falling short amongst its instrumental rivals. Overall, “Poor Man Dan,” generates curiosity and is certainly a wonderful opening, but fails to have any lasting ‘oomph’ in this two track special.
Peel’s other offering, “Get By,” begins with keys and more powerful horns. A gnarly growl through those copper pipes peels the curtain back for Coffee’s performance, “Billy was a queen.” In contrast to “Poor Man Dan,” this track relies more on Shaun Fleming’s vocal talents –being almost reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Overall, the track is more balanced and drives forward more consistently. “Get By,” also reminds me that Peel sounds very much like an Of Montreal-inspired drag show. On one hand, that’s why I want more. On the other, I’m ready for Diane Coffee to move onto something new.
Ultimately, Peel is exactly what it claims to be. The outer rind, the sharp, bitter, burst of flavor, before the real meat of the fruit. Typically, you don’t want to eat the peel –but I couldn’t blame you for trying. As Shaun Fleming embraces the musical persona, Diane Coffee, even further, I’m sure we’ll see more gems. These two particular tracks aren’t cutting it however. While they have their appealing quirks, the tracks are just a bit too flashy to sound meaningful.