Music

Dick Diver: Melbourne, Florida

On their third release, Australia’s Dick Diver up the ante in terms of what indie pop can and should be.


Dick Diver

Melbourne, Florida

Label: Trouble in Mind
US Release Date: 2015-03-10
UK Release Date: 2015-03-09
Amazon
iTunes

Given their name, one could be easily forgiven thinking Melbourne, Australia’s Dick Diver the exact opposite of what they are. Those more literary-minded, however, will pick up the reference straight away (Dick Diver being one of the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night) and get a sense for the music on the group’s latest and first for Trouble in Mind, Melbourne, Florida.

Set against a black and white mosaic, the members of Dick Diver stare out from the album’s cover with an intellectual aloofness that belies the music contained within. Rather than being overly literary or, worse, willfully esoteric, they present a highly enjoyable brand of accessible indie pop indebted to fellow native sons the Go-Betweens and indie stalwarts Yo La Tengo. Given this accessibility, it comes as little surprise their last album, Calendar Days, was nominated for the largest public-voted music award in Australia, the Age’s Music Victoria Awards.

But there’s something beyond general accessibility inherent in the band’s appeal. Capable of crafting achingly lovely sophisti-pop ballads (“Blue Time”) as well as requisite jangle pop (“Waste the Alphabet”), Dick Diver manage to move beyond the indie pop ghetto and into more nuanced territory, augmenting their arrangements with everything from horns to synths to steel guitar. And in this approach to broaden their musical palette and craft a more mature indie pop sound, the members of Dick Diver find themselves able to retain the genre’s more twee elements. Enlivening each track with a greater level of sophistication and complexity in turn helps avoid the genre’s stigma of simplicity and saccharine cutesiness.

Due to the nature of both the music and its land of origin, there are natural comparisons to groups like the Go-Betweens, the Clean, the Bats, and even contemporaries like Twerps. But Dick Diver seek to transcend these overly simplistic comparisons with stylistically diverse compositions like the Kinks-like “Beat Me Up (Talk to a Counselor)” and “Private Number”. The latter would not have sounded out of place on an early Squeeze album with its jaunty piano, start/stop rhythms and singsong melody. When the solo section breaks for a tasteful saxophone solo, Dick Diver displays a sense of maturity and sophistication that helps raise them above their peers, moving beyond mere indie pop and into the realm of something altogether greater.

More so than most operating within the indie framework, their use of horns helps serve the songs. Rather than simply adding an odd trumpet for the novelty factor, theirs are perfectly complimentary arrangements that help flesh out the bones of each song. Where most would stick to mere melody mirroring, here the horns operate in a manner more akin to that of soul music, backing the vocalists without dominating the sound and playing perfectly accented lines that blend rather than distract.

Third track “Leftovers” is perhaps the best example of this approach. Having been built largely on jangly guitars and gently propulsive drums, the horn arrangements take the song to a level lost to most thinking within the somewhat restrictive parameters of the traditional indie pop sound. By incorporating all requisite i elements alongside these more thought-out arrangements, Dick Diver delivers a fairly decisive statement, positioning themselves at the vanguard of indie pop’s current practitioners.

Melbourne, Florida is ultimately the work of a group coming into its own, embracing a more mature sound and one more suited to its literary-minded origins. Fans of exceptional indie pop will do well to spend some time in Melbourne, Florida.

8

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image