The Beat is Dead
Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
With close to a decade spent touring and recording with the indie rock outfit, Girl in a Coma, former lead singer and guitarist Nina Diaz has recently sought a career on her own terms. Starting in 2014 she took an extended break from that band to develop the synthesized, hard rock sound created by that ambitious break in her debut, The Beat is Dead. Filled out with front-and-center vocals along with a clean and simple production, Diaz’s first entry as a solo artist is brimming with the kind of confidence that only comes after her years of growth and experience.
In that vein The Beat is Dead is at its best when focused on developing the new wave sound that draws immediate comparisons to ’80s mainstays Billy Idol and Scandal. You can practically visualize the upturned sneer as Diaz growls and croons through the strong openers of “Trick Candle” and “Queen Beats King.” “Trick Candle” on one hand vaults new wave into the 21st century, showing off the polished production that conducts a synthetic symphony in the background as Diaz broods and breathes with heady intensity. The follow-up of “Queen Beats King” reverses direction in a sense, slowing things down for an emotional ballad that steadies the intensity of the vocals and adds a nostalgic touch of bubbly synths.
But the debut loses focus when it abandons that retro flourish of inspiration. Bits of tejano-inspired rock and roll pervade throughout, but these elements aren’t as neatly executed in comparison. As a consequence much of the album’s latter half doesn’t leave much of an impression after a casual listen. Despite those flaws The Beat is Dead is not for a lack of talent. Diaz wisely inputs the tricks of the trade gleaned from a decade of on-the-road living and learning, invigorating her debut with a distinct, boisterous personality spiced up liberally with harmonic synths.