Ted’s Diner’s first studio album is an intimate collection of tracks that explore an immediate feeling of camaraderie and community.

With multicolored crushed beer cans—one of which, toward the left side of the image, showcases the band’s name—the cover of Ted’s Diner’s first album, Vol. 1, provides an accurate overview of its content: scattered and eclectic, but coming together to create an enjoyable, coherent entity.

Ted’s Diner’s (comprised of Ben Ouellette, Jimmy Talbot, and Tim Cahill) album offers a range of styles across genres, from soft and welcoming folk-rock in “‘Til the Devil Comes Thru” to spacey, synth-backed grooves in “Sandwiches for Shankman.”

It’s a friendly conglomeration—easy listening with an abundance of mix-ups that keep the listener almost constantly on their feet. The album portrays to a tee what the band’s name suggests—a warm, crowded diner, a “united” clientele, and a sense of camaraderie. “Til the Devil Comes Thru” exemplifies this, beginning with an upbeat folk aesthetic and, a few minutes into the song, changing up the tempo, transitioning from energetic and almost uncontrollable to somber and contemplative.

More than anything, it showcases the band’s versatility and poise, offering a sonic sampler of sorts.

Ted’s Diner occasionally ventures here into the realm of “dad rock” but does it in the most palatable of ways; the album is pretty much free of the tropes that might plague anything falling under that description. The band’s creative energy flows vividly throughout and replaces potential eye-rolls and groans with thoughtful details and stylistic choices that make the collection of songs markedly their own.

Ted’s Diner is adept at the art of submersion. Each song has a distinct feeling or theme. “Wine” is a lazy song—but not in the way that the song is written. Rather, the meandering beat provides structure for the ragtag collection of guitars that occasionally introduce funky, bass-like riffs. A celestial-sounding synth joins the crowd of instruments about 30 seconds in and, characteristic of Ted’s Diner, changes up the direction of the song, transforming it instead into a dreamlike musical landscape.

The rest of the songs follow a similar path, keeping the album lively and eclectic. Each of the tracks—conceptual words in a sentence of songs—builds on the last, contributing to the album’s zigzag narrative of comfort amid a terrifying world. “Jaws” is a refreshingly upbeat, modern love song (“I’m in love with your complacent disregard”) that soars to breathtaking sonic heights, complemented by its soothing a capella. It is in this song, especially in its lyrics and vocal performance, that the warm feeling of diner—familiarity shines through the most.

Vol. 1 attempts to tell a story—one without a clear plot yet united point-to-point, ideologically, creating a coherent whole. Especially in the themes introduced and built upon over the course of the album. The collection of cans, the crowded diner feeling, and hopeful and encouraging lyrics emphasize the feeling of comfort and familiarity. It’s a compelling collection of music that, despite slightly confusing changeups, brings about a sense of immediacy—Ted’s Diner narrates from the perspective of one of the many cans on the album’s cover, drawing and orchestrating a world around them.

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