Since their formation in 2008, Dick Diver has been at the forefront of the jangle-pop music in Melbourne, Australia. The quartet of Rupert Edwards, Alistair McKay, Steph Hughes, and Al Montfort have developed a reputation for clever and witty lyrics, unpretentious personalities, and outgoing, fun live shows. Their light-hearted nature was heard on their first two albums and critics and bloggers fell in love with them, so much so that their sophomore album, Calendar Days, recognized by print media and blogs as one of the best Aussie albums of 2013. The Guardian, for instance, named it the Best Australian Album of that year.
On their third album, Melbourne, Florida, there is a noticeable maturity in the music and songwriting. While the witticism still exists, the foursome are more forthright in their social commentary of the society they live in and the effects of one’s surroundings on an individual. This is most apparent on the moody but superb “Year in Pictures”. It has the flair of Belle and Sebastian – from the use of horns to the observations of how people miss so while being distracted by the wrong things. “Leftovers”, similarky, follows a B&S approach with a slow building beginning before Hughes’ voice comes in. The gorgeous tune laments the life of the modern, suburban family – too busy to do anything and too busy to notice the days go by. “Boomer Class”, likewise, may have a breezy, romantic feel but it’s a critique of what family means these days.
But not all the youthful innocence and witticism are lost. The opening track, “Waste the Alphabet“, is a fun pop-rocker and the most uptempo on the album. “Tearing Down the Posters” is a jangly, enjoyable number “Competition” is a synth-driven pop song that uses Tanya Harding as the symbol of the competitor that overcomes each of us at some point in life. “Beat Me Up (Talk to a Counselor)” echoes of Dan Bejar, except it’s unlikely Bejar would write about being beaten up as oppose to doing the beating. Nonetheless, it’s a song that reflects back on one’s high school years, which for many were not exactly like Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
The album is full of beautiful, melodic songs, and it’s fitting that the record closes with “Blue Time” and “View from a Shakey Ladder”. The latter keeps with the themes of isolation and loneliness, of lost souls, and of lost identity in today’s world of cookie-cutter houses and drive towards conformity. It’s a splendid, reflective ballad and perfectly concludes this one fine record – a record that should be celebrated for making us re-think about the lives we lead and what the world has become.
Melbourne, Florida is out now. In New Zealand and Australia, get it at Chapter Music. Canadian and US resident, pick it up at Trouble in Mind Records, iTunes, and Amazon. If you want to know a bit more about Rupert Edwards, check out his list of favourite books, which he provided to us on the inaugural Artiste 5.
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