Release Date: Mar 10, 2015
Record label: Trouble in Mind
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
When I think of Melbourne, Florida, I think of ska, not the Go-Betweens. Dick Diver is from that other Melbourne, the classy one, part of the same Go-Betweensy “scene” as bands like the Twerps and the Stevens. Dick Diver even shares members with tuff-guy bands Total Control and UV Race—and those members are the same guy. So Dick Diver is a band with connections from a good city in a neat part of the world, and most importantly they’re pretty good at being a band, in that they write songs worth listening to.
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.
Any indie pop band from Australia is going to get compared to the Go-Betweens; it's inevitable. Melbourne's Dick Diver have been one of the few to actually be worthy of such heady praise. Over the course of an EP and two albums, they've gone from a scrappy, brainy quartet to a less scrappy, more grown-up group, balancing brains and emotion like they were born to do it.
Since their start as a live band in 2008, Dick Diver have been golden calves of the Australian music press. Beginning with the 2009 debut EP Arks Up and the 2011 LP New Start Again, they carved a national identity through songwriting in a way that'd been unfashionable enough to have virtually been forgotten. Attracting comparisons to Dunedin bands like the Clean—an alleged influence the band are quick to protest—their jangly, working class rock inspired unlikely thinkpieces about new movements in Australian music towards reclaiming Australian-ness.
Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida (Trouble In Mind)What’s interesting about Dick Diver’s music is that they’re one of a few guitar-based pop bands in our current world that pulls more influence from a state of mind than from a record collection. I’ve been trying hard to find a single place where their third album Melbourne, Florida fits in a continuum of bands playing melodic, sentimental songs with some thought behind them, and to their credit, they make a complete break from anything ‘60s or psychedelic, from folk-based forms or three-minute pop songs of yore. Their timeline now picks up after all that, early-mid ‘70s perhaps, when radio narrowed our cultural spectrum to visible light, studio technology rounded a corner, and pop music became environmental, a journal of experience, countrified to a number of degrees and filled with nostalgic regret for the utopia we’d lost, and which had also lost us, music you could stare out the window and smoke cigarettes by all day.
With a name that ranks as the biggest red herring since the New Pornographers, Australia’s Dick Diver comes across as a rarity: a quartet where all four members get equal turns at the mic. Unlike the days when George and Ringo were thrown a bone or two with each album, Melbourne, Florida (Dick Diver’s third) gives all four members take round robin lead opportunities in the first quartet of songs. The sharing continues over the whole album, and this approach comes off less like a patchwork of influences than four angles of strong power pop, one song often seguing into the next for maximum impact.