Aussie trio DMA’S dropped their third record today, moving away from their raw acoustic sound to a more abstract and alternate vibe under the supervision of producer Stuart Price, who has a CV full of names like The Killers, New Order and even Madonna.
It was evident from their previous LP that the tunes were heading in this direction, and this seems to be a common pattern with many predominantly indie-rock artists leaning into an alt-pop style; however, few pull it off as well as Tommy, Johnny and Matt have with this release.
The first track, ‘Never Before’, immediately sets the tone by creating a large instrumental soundscape, balancing fast yet relaxed synths and beats with Tommy’s smooth vocals. This immediately lays out the difference to their last 2 albums while warming up slowly for the hard-hitting singles that follow next.
This short but punchy single lyrically expresses the feeling of becoming lost in change, a theme that recurs across the record
Title track ‘The Glow’ follows this with perhaps the most energetic song on the album. This short but punchy single lyrically expresses the feeling of becoming lost in change, a theme that recurs across the record, and does so with undeniably catchy melodies throughout the track. While being very much an indie-rock track at its core, the anthemic hooks are only heightened by the scale of production that elevates the song above its genre.
‘Silver’ is next up, and is definitely the stand out song (if one has to be chosen) – a track that has apparently been kicked around for years, Johnny Took’s lyrics are realised by Tommy and harmonised with by Matt, with Stuart Price bringing the flourish that makes this the perfect culmination of the group’s various talents. Discussing the passing of a loved one and coming to terms with the finality and perspective that brings, this tune shows the vulnerability that the group had in their early stages but now presents it in a more mature manner while stilling holding nostalgia for the innocence it was written with.
The show at O2 Academy Brixton earlier this year really emphasises the soul the band puts into songs like this, and how their fans are fully behind it. It also shows how the new album can be translated into a stage performance, which is certainly difficult to imagine at first. The lead vocals just blow the roof off any venue this trio grace – as fans have said, frontman Tommy has “the voice of a bricklayer, the voice of an angel.” This perhaps explains the UK Britpop-fan following DMA’S have gained, exceeding even their domestic support, as he seems to embody the working-class success story that Liam once had, as well as showing musical influences from this era.
3 more singles follow, the most notable being ‘Life is a Game of Changing’, the content of which is obvious and again reflects upon dealing with change but does so in a dance, almost psychedelic-trance track that is seriously nuanced and layered. ‘Learning Alive’ provides a quite depressing and subdued ballad, and ‘Criminals’ is the exact opposite sounding like upbeat charts pop.
The rest of the until-now-unreleased material certainly maintains the high standard I have praised thus far; ‘Hello Girlfriend’ layers heavy rhythm guitar with light riffs and for another bopping chorus and ‘Appointment’ builds upon acoustics to provide another power ballad. The final track ‘Cobracaine’ is the most out-there even when compared to the others, melting vocals through harmonies and pairing this with deep, trancey synths to create a melting pot of sounds that seems a million miles away from tracks like ‘Lay Down’, ‘Step Up the Morphine’ and ‘Delete’.
Melting vocals through harmonies and pairing this with deep, trancy synths to create a melting pot of sounds
It is truly hard to describe the sound of this album, but it’s eccentric and maximalist production has clearly been worked on a lot in the studio and is quite something to witness, truly showing how producers become a fourth band member and can impact an artist’s sound and legacy. The band have said “there’s always a bit of worry that fans might not like it but I don’t think you should specifically make music for your fans, you should make music that you want to make”, and it is certainly clear that this is exactly what they have done, which is hard not to respect.
Overall, all 11 tracks flex incredible vocals, strong songwriting and modern flair that I hope will chart well, beyond the #13 position achieved here thus far. I heavily recommend exploring the sound for yourself, as it will not be to everyone’s taste, but for me, it hits the spot between rock and pop perfectly – admittedly, I am extremely biased, having including this on my lockdown song and album highlights. These stadium-ready songs should be playing across the festival circuit right now, but if the Brixton records are anything to go by, it will at least be worth the wait to sing along in 2021.
Last modified: 10th July 2020