Since swaggering onto the UK scene a few years ago, DMAs have been a band enamoured with the past. On their previous records, the Aussie trio have mainly dabbled in the 80s / 90s ‘Brit-pop’ and ‘Madchester’ era, providing nostalgic tones infused with a youthful flavour and Burberry caps.
It is therefore refreshing to see their third effort, The Glow, step away from the safety of their established sound, the band refusing to become stale. This time, the lads have decided to ditch the dark fruits drenched singalongs in favour of a boogy. It’s not a far cry from previous work, but the injection of electronic energy and synth experimentation means this album does really stand out.
The dancing starts from the get-go with ‘Never Before’ where the Primal Scream-esque groove and O’Dells vintage silky vocals combine to set the tone. Straight away you can see the sonic adventures the band have been on, and the influence of grammy award-winning producer Stuart Price is clear to see. Their new direction comes into its own with ‘Life is a game of changing’ a track entwined in 90s rave culture, with a truly infectious chorus.
‘Strangers’ is also a real highlight, it takes a step back into old school DMAs territory, the tracks laid back and brooding beat setting it apart from much of the album. The following track, ‘Learning Alive’ is similar in its familiarity, the continuous crescendo invites comparison to fan favourite ‘Delete’, but it’s lyrics much more vulnerable.
Yet, even with such roaring highs in the album there are some apparent falls. ‘Criminals’ feels out of place, its pop inspired synths end up quite generic. Lyrics do seem to come second fiddle in a few tracks in favour of a more danceable vibe, and whilst this may be a conscious decision it can hinder some tracks on the album, in particular on ‘Round & Around’, ‘Hello Girlfriend’ and the aforementioned ‘Criminals’. Furthermore, the second half of the album does have an issue with variety and can become a bit of a slog.
However, the final track on the album ‘Cobracaine’ is fantastic, showing all the potential of their new soundscape, succeeding on all parts with an ethereal electronic build, reminiscent of an Orbital track, that ends the album in a hopeful anticipation.
The Glow exemplifies what can happen when a band experiment. Whilst DMAs do miss the mark on occasion, when they hit it its bold and refreshing, showcasing their adventurous minds as musicians and willingness to fail in some aspects in order to over-succeed in others. Yet, as the band delve deeper into this new direction, they are bound to progress in this new territory, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next.
Image Credit: Andy Cotteril