DMA'S: 'How Many Dreams' wins us over with its ravey bangers and emotion
There's just something about the Sydney trio's fourth album that will have you hitting the repeat button.
I joined the DMA'S party at the third time of asking. For a long while, I knew of the band's existence yet never felt compelled to give them a listen. For reasons I can't quite recall, I actively left the main stage at Glasgow's TRNSMT Festivla in July 2019 for a stint at the bar rather than watch their afternoon set ("shame!" I hear the most ardent DMA'S fan whisper). Things would soon change. A year later, as lockdown took hold of our hearts and minds, I jumped in with two feet for their third album THE GLOW. I came round and began to see the appeal. Quicker than expected, I found myself a fully-fledged member of the DMA'S fan club, stopping just short of hanging their posters above my bed.
Back then I was beginning my journey as a music blogger and they seemed an easy choice to write about on that particular release week. For the simple reason, I knew people liked them. Despite this, as the album came out, I was still shocked at how much love they received from many of the UK indie Twitter accounts I followed. In turn, I got the appeal and gave their album a positive write-up. Suddenly I was receiving kudos by lots of football fan accounts sporting Adidas gazelles in their profile pictures. And I guess this is the crowd they appeal to. Their tunes are lapped up by the indie-football crowd who still wish time would revert back to June 1996 - a time when England were threatening to win the Euros and Oasis were putting the final touches to their iconic Knebworth gig preparation.
For this reason, it can be easy to throw the Sydney three-piece into the category of those wishing to bring the Liam Gallagher/Ian Brown swagger back into the mainstream. Of course, this would be unfair. Where their tunes are anthemic, ravey and festival-ready, scratch beneath the surface and you'll find a warm depth to the music which sets them apart from their rivals.
Looks are also deceiving here. DMA'S definitely have an unkept laddy aesthetic which perhaps does and doesn't do them any favours. One glance in their direction and images of Burberry-clad gentlemen singing "engerland, engerland, engerland" on a football away day in a European capital city square come to mind. In reality, in interviews at least, they come across as humble Aussie boys you could happily go for a quiet pint with down your local. And lets not underplay the beauty in Tommy Odells voice: the bands' key ingredient to keeping the soul of the operation intact.
Now on the go for over a decade, the band have just released their fourth album How Many Dreams? and show little sign of losing their status as one of the favourites within the UK indie scene.
"It's our time, honey, yeh / And I know what becomes when I think about you and I" opens Odell on epic single 'I Don't Need to Hide', our first taste of the new record back in August. The track, which is about someone loving you for all your faults, was one which instantly grabbed my attention and made me want to punch the sky in excitement. There's a certain emotional draw to the verses before the release of euphoria in the chorus - simply sublime.
Likewise, the electro-infused curtain-raising track 'How Many Dreams?' brings in the rave in a typically upbeat and infectious DMA'S manner. Following an extended instrumental intro, it's so ridiculously easy to get lost in the chorus (which has Tommy asking "How many dreams to find out what you have lost?"). They follow the energy with two upbeat radio-friendly tracks in 'Olympia' and 'Everybody's Saying Thursday's The Weekend'. Both of them have Radio X A-list playlist written all over them - solid tunes though not on the same level of others on this record.
On 'Dear Future', DMA'S take a breather for a luscious effort aided by strings and tenderness. Their more ravey/upbeat anthems may grab the headlines but equally, they've always had a knack for producing gorgeous earworms to get the arms swaying from side to side. 'Forever' later attempts something similar without hitting the same heights, especially coming only two tracks later and following a similar and weaker template. Instead, they make up for it with 'Jai Alai': a piano-led ballad which again leaves you stunned in its quiet beauty - bonus points are thrown in for the closing mandolin outro!
Where the mid-section of the album is defined by tenderness and balladry, the conclusion of the record does everything to leave us on a high. "Satellite you're one in a million to find / satellite you've opened, now I'm in love" belts out Odell on 'Get Ravey', allowing us to get lost in his soppy romanticism. Penultimate track 'Something We Are Overcoming' ups the ravey steaks from earlier but lacks the emotional draw to hold our attention. Such attention certainly isn't lost on the album finisher 'De Carle'. Here they end the record with what the band have called their "first full blown dance song". The closer is a five-minute experience of ominous and dirty house music, like nothing else they've ever produced. I'd even go as far as saying this is the album's high point alongside the opener and 'I Don't Need To Hide'.
Now to address the elephant in the room. I guess I should point out that I've seen a few negative comments on this record. I get it. Lyrically, this isn't exactly Leonard Cohen stuff and there's a lot of corn sprinkled throughout to put off the music snobs among us. But having said that, there's just something about this album which couldn't help but give us a buzz when returning to it. There's a couple of duds granted, but the high points really do create an ability to lose yourself in the music.
On 2020 single 'Life Is A Game Of Changing', DMA'S progression statement was laid bare in their declaration for sound development. Three years later and their fourth album isn't too dissimilar to The GLOW and that's ok, they've instead refined their sound rather than water it down. How Many Dreams? throws in the best elements of DMA's without committing to one single sound - euphoric rave tunes sitting next to tender ballads and radio-friendly indie bangers. It may be corny and soppy at points, but its so easy to forgive them when there's so many thrilling moments. And with this review over, I'm ready to fire it all up again (well, a good two-thirds of it anyway!).