Originally featured at www.13thfloor.co.nz
With a sound palette that borrows heavily from Oasis, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene, and Stone Roses, Sydney’s DMA’S might just be the best Australian Brit-Pop band you never heard of.
The band first gained notice with a sweet little number called Delete and a well-received EP. Following that, this Sydney trio of Tommy O’Dell (vocals), Johnny Took (guitars) and Matt Mason (guitarist and backing vocalist) released their debut album Hills End two years ago. It went off, smashing the Aussie Top 10 and earning them stage time at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Latitude, and Reading Festivals. They won over a few more hearts with a remake of Cher’s Believe. But also bowled over the fickle UK music press. And no wonder. If they served up anything like this new album, then it was bound to win them over. Because no matter which way you listen, this is a big cocktail of English pop overflowing with influences from the golden years of the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
First out of the blocks is the title track, For Now, led by O’Dell doing his best Ian Brown impression backed up by an undisclosed drummer who I can only assume is actually Mani himself. The song is wonderfully saturated in overproduced layers of guitars and distortion but held together with a funky, psychedelic groove, just like all the best Stone Roses tracks.
With the following number, Dawning, a song about a fizzling love affair, we get a slower more measured composition, still delivered with slightly snarling vocals and matching guitars. Both Gallagher brothers would be pleased to call this one their own. It’s infectious strumming chorus will be a perfect sing-along at the next Glasto.
The theme continues with Time Money, another swaggering template of late century stadium pop. You’ll find this song hiding in various guises in the set list of everyone from Ocean Colour Scene to James, only with O’Dell’s sweeter scouse-tinged vocals, it’s possibly just a little bit more credible.
However, the big let-down is the smaltzy new single In The Air. If this album is a tribute to Brit Pop and Madchester then it’s best to steer well clear of Westlife. Oddly, we get a few hints of Green-era REM in the introduction of Break Me before it dissolves into a new interpretation of The Stone Roses’ I am the Resurrection, complete with an overtly climatic build up, more Brown-like vocals and some grungy feedback on the fade-out for extra effect. Even the double time drumming impersonates Mani – again. Turns out Liam Gallagher likes it, though, recently tweeting his approval and calling it ‘BIBLICAL’.
Lazy Love comes straight out of Ocean Colour Scene’s songbook, who, in turn, stole it from Paul Weller, who’d originally nicked it from a 60’s Merseyside band. And O’Dell helps it along by making his voice sound like a very cute Davy Jones. It’s another big strumming hit, with a cruiser feel to it and is instantly catchy.
After all this feel good, the album finishes with two slow jangly numbers Health and Emily Whyte (a Mason composition). If Simon Fowler was feeling a bit depressed the day he wrote The Day We Caught The Train, it might have turned out like this instead. To be fair it is a wonderfully blissed out closer to an album that could never be mistaken for anything but pure 90’s Brit Pop.
Some of this album has the fingerprints of co-producer Kim Moyes (The Presets) on it but you’d hardly know. There’s no obvious signs of EDM on this mix, save for the occasional ambient flourish or blip blip. Instead, it’s 1990 Britannia all the way. Apparently O’Dell’s dad is a Scouser, and he grew up soaked in Liverpudlian musical heritage, in a house full of Beatles and Merseybeat vinyl. So the penny’s dropped. That explains why a band that emerged from Sydney pub culture sounds like they’ve been rehearsing in Mosley ‘Shoals’.
All that said, if you’re looking for something to replace that worn out copy of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? in your glove box, then this will do nicely, mate.