Words by Alex Payne
Artwork courtesy of Ian Cheek PR
Australia’s premier Britpop band, DMA’s, are back with a bang for their third full length, The Glow. Threatened by the success of their first two albums, both of which are unabashed homages to mid-90’s Britpop, the three piece have begun to expand their sound, and explore new sonic influences. Don’t get it twisted – clear nods to the Gallaghers, Primal Scream and The Stone Roses are littered throughout, but on this release there’s “a bit of everything for everyone”
The most obvious takeaway from their reinvention is the introduction of electronic elements into their sound. The odd track on previous releases may have flirted with them, but their inclusion on The Glow feels both natural and fresh. Floaty synths on Life is a Game of Changing are reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers, and bleed wonderfully into the New Order-esque instrumentation, while lead singer Tommy O’Dell swaps reverb for a faint vocoder effect on Cobracaine, and various electronic elements bubble under the instrumentation. Ultimately both tracks have benefited from just a slight modernisation, and it’s precisely for the opposite reason that Criminals appears to be the dud of the project. Where electronic elements were included with subtlety on the aforementioned tracks, the bright chords that are wedged after the first hook feel intrusive and alien, forcing mainstream appeal into an otherwise understated track. Overall, it’s clear that DMA’s remain diligently obsequious to their musical predecessors, and they appear to have shunned real innovation for inspiration once again; this time, however, they’ve just reached a little further afield than Britpop. It may fail to be score on originality, but for the most part, it’s a brilliant addition to their otherwise comfortable sound.
The trio also dabble with ballads on this release, notably Learning Alive and Appointment. The repetition on the latter comes across a tad anodyne, but the former manages to be a genuinely touching call for self-love; a message that’s bound to resonate given the bleak context that surrounds the release of this record. For the most part though, DMA’s seem to have continued to trade substance for accessibility in their lyrics, and as a result, most tracks will be easy to bellow along to in a sun scorched field – even after a couple of Dark Fruits. Similarly, in our interview with O’Dell earlier this year, the lead singer was quick to stress that despite the new, shiny additions, the core of DMA’s sound was still obvious. True enough, as tracks like Silver, Hello Girlfriend and the titular track, still sound like the nonchalant blend of British pop-rock and Australian garage-rock we’ve come to love from DMA’s.
Finally, it’s clear that The Glow is a masterclass in production and mixing, with Stuart Price, producer and the unofficial fourth DMA on this project, having done a brilliant job of balancing modern and nostalgic sounds throughout. Particularly noticeable on tracks like Never Before and Cobracaine, Price has managed to give plenty of space to Tommy O’Dell’s reverb soaked vocals amongst the instrumentation, which goes a long way to establishing the project’s wistful and infectious anthemic tone. Having been so defined by their Britpop influence, it’s refreshing to see DMA’s incorporate some new elements to their sound, without sacrificing their consistency. It won’t win any prizes for originality, but The Glow is a solid third release that’s practically begging to be this summer’s soundtrack.
The Glow is out now
Read our interview with DMA’s here