Updated: Oct 7, 2020
A confident, Britpop inspired record with indie anthems, electronics, delicate moments and infectious hooks. The best tracks and a brief guide to DMA’S ‘THE GLOW’.
DMA's are often referred to as Australia's best-kept secret, but year after year that secret is coming out. Liam Gallagher called their last album "biblical", they've supported the big names from Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Kasabian to Courteeners and they played the main stage at Glasgow's TRNSMT 2019 festival, a performance I was lucky enough to witness.
With such exposure, the three-piece band from Sydney have assembled a strong Indie cult following - both in their Australian homeland and in the UK - and 2020 is their biggest year yet having just released their third album 'THE GLOW' (10 July).
Growing popularity of the band
On Saturday 11 July 2020, a day after the album was released, DMA’S suddenly found themselves the focus of a new, unexpected audience. To their surprise, One Direction's Louis Tomlinson had tweeted his praise of the band to his 34 million followers, millions of 'Directioners' furiously enquiring as to who they were. And the exposure has thus far worked, a quick look at the YouTube comments on their new videos reveals a host of "Here from Louis Tomlinson" comments. It can't have done their popularity any harm at all.
This acclaim was surprising but welcomed nonetheless. Until now, your average DMA’S fan enjoyed the British indie of Oasis, The Charlatans and Happy Monday’s, sniffing their nose up at the music of Harry Styles, Liam Payne and co. Two worlds suddenly collide, but you won't hear the band complaining.
The above mentioned 90s Manchester bands have clearly been an inspiration to the DMA’S, and they've developed their own distinct sound along the way. It’s that fusion of nostalgia and great songwriting that has gotten them to where they are today.
Their greatest weapon is the voice of Burberry clad frontman Tommy O’Dell, whose powerful, yet delicate, vocals carry prominence throughout this 42 minute record. He's supported by strong melodies and hooks, pounding bass, smooth drum beats, and a mixture of uptempo and midtempo songs.
THE GLOW is also characterised by New Rave, combining the Indie and Dance genres together not too dissimilar to what The Stone Roses and The Music had mastered years before. Instead of just looking to the past, the electronic nature gives it a futuristic sound too.
What are the best tracks?
Never Before (track 1)
The above mentioned ‘Never Before’ is a fine introduction to what is to come, featuring an infectious ‘baggy’ 90s guitar sound, big chorus and a drum beat that could’ve been drawn up form the streets of late 80s Manchester.
On first listen, you feel a similarity to The Charlatans 1997 classic ‘North Country Boy’. There’s glimpses of The Stone Roses, Primal Scream and even ‘Achtung Baby’ era U2, with guitar effects, loops and a customary anthemic chorus fit for their legendary live performances. I absolutely loved it on first listen.
Silver (track 3)
'Silver' is the lead single from the album, released a mere eight months before THE GLOW eventually dropped. In their native Australia, it featured on the top 20 of Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2019, excitedly whetting the appetite of their loyal fanbase.
It’s easy to see why. It’s a delicate, sweet-sounding song with a strong vocal performance from Tommy O'Dell. It carries a similar tone and style to Lightning Seeds' 1990 hit ‘Pure’. A Britpop ballad for the times, the emotional centrepiece of the album. With 7.6 million streams on Spotify it's easily the most popular song on the album.
Tommy croons on the chorus, "I’m still coming down / it's funny that I think of you right now / knowing of the years that turned to clouds / I’m still coming down". A beautiful delivery and the highpoint of the record.
Life is a Game of Changing (track 4)
This track is the most ravey on the album (you can hear it near the top of the page), with a fast beat set to emotional lyrics, synths and another strong vocal performance. A thoughtful Indie Dance banger from a band evolving their sound as the album develops.
There’s a New Order/Pet Shop Boys inspiration and its' unashamed electronic beats grab your attention from the off.
Strangers (track 6)
'Strangers' takes us to the midway point of the album, one that’s become an early favourite with DMA’S fanbase. It's atmospheric and unique without maintaining their trademark style.
Within the outro, the repetition of the words ‘Oh, you know it’s better in your own way’, provides a haunting singalong to end the tune.
'Gas Panic!' Oasis vibe, anyone?
Hello Girlfriend (Track 8)
This track is a fairly standard upbeat Indie Pop anthem and, again, has been a popular new favourite with their fans. Its charisma openly welcomed after two slower numbers.
There’s a powerful bridge build up to the chorus before the release of the infectious lines, "Oh, Christie, look what you made me / You were giving more to me than you ever would have known / Shoot me back down, and I'm going crazy.’"
Round and Around (Track 10) & Cobracaine (track 11)
The penultimate 'Round and Around' is another upbeat indie anthem with confident Britpop melodies and guitar riffs.
With these two songs, the DMA’S brandish a swagger they’ve flirted with over the record. It’s a brilliant finale.
Any skippable tracks?
Not many, but a couple do spring out (as they do with 99% of albums these days).
Whilst the video featured enjoyable raw footage of the band playing live, the ballad 'Learning Alive' did very little to engage past first listen. 'Criminals' was another slower paced song with a more sugary sound, more on the bland side compared with the other highlights.
I’ve also seen a lot of love for this song, so what do I know? The Emperors New Clothes strikes again!
'THE GLOW' is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, particularly those with a love of melancholic indie and upbeat 90s Madchester music. With the seeming dearth of indie rock records this year, it’s bound to be a popular one over the summer.
It's not a perfect album by any means, but DMA'S deliver a record with one eye on the past and, importantly, with another on the future. Great work lads!
Thanks for reading.