Release Date: Feb 26, 2016
Record label: Infectious
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Here’s the talking point for DMA’s. If you look at the YouTube comments for their videos, about half of them concern either how much the band look like Oasis or how much they sound like Oasis. No matter Oasis split up in 2009, and were in their Britpop prime about 15 years before that. The internet, ironically, makes it all-too-easy to focus on a single storyline, turn everything it can into a meme.Don’t make that mistake with DMA’s.
“Let it all out, just let it all out,” DMA’s singer Tommy O’Dell pleads on “Delete”, the crowning jewel of Hills End. The song has been around the block once or twice by now, having appeared on their self-titled EP last year. Still, there’s no way anyone can ignore the rallying power ballad, and there’s no reason anyone should: In under five minutes, the Australian rockers pin up every single one of their talents — from layered harmonies, to acoustic-to-electric transmissions, to the Joshua Tree rhythm section.
For a band from Sydney, Australia, trio DMA’s sound remarkably like a Britpop group circa 1996 – with a tinge of American rock guitar thrown in. Based on the energetic opening cut “Timeless” off of their full-length debut album Hills End, DMA’s have all the sonic ingredients of Oasis and their peers from 20 years ago, mainly the shimmering, buzzy electric guitar, and Beatles-esque melodies. Reportedly, previous comparisons of DMA’s to Oasis didn’t impress always-quotable former Oasis vocalist/guitarist Noel Gallagher, who apparently went so far as to say last year that he would boo DMA’s when he saw them on stage at New York’s Governors Ball (although the band later denied the statement).
You can’t really fault the DMA’s dedication to being the Australian Oasis. They’ve adopted the sportswear, the monotone Liamesque sneer and the mid-paced trudge that was Oasis’s default musical setting. They’ve even roped in former Oasis producer Mark “Spike” Stent to mix their debut album. For all that, though, Hills End doesn’t call to mind Oasis so much as that wave of Liverpudlian groups who preceded them – the likes of the Real People or Top, each of whom had a couple of terrific songs, but lacked the spark the Gallaghers brought to the world’s most straightforward musical concoction.
The debut album from the Aussie Brit-pop revivalists, Hills End's influences are obvious and many, but DMA's deliver the goods with enough vitality and pure pop acumen to temper some of the criticisms that their obvious affinity for all things Oasis and Stone Roses will no doubt invoke. The trio caught a wave of buzz in 2014 with their melodious, acoustic guitar-driven ode to young love "Delete," which appears here in a newly recorded, far more ornate version that builds to a dizzying crescendo. That song, the road trip-ready "Lay Down," and the equally incandescent "Switch" and "Play It Out" skillfully pair the summery evocations of Roses classics like "She Bangs the Drums" and "Waterfall" with the lyrical simplicity and economical hooks of the Vaccines.
DMA’s may not have been doing themselves many favours lately by wearing their Gallagher-loving hearts so obviously on their sleeves. It seems, for many, that links between the Aussie buzz band and the Manchester icons are a little too tenuous, and in fact, debut album ‘Hills End’ feels equally influenced by the endearingly scrappy arrogance of 2006’s ‘don’t-believe-the-hype’ Sheffield Monkeys, as by the bands of the ‘90s Britpop heyday. That isn’t to say that the Oasis twang can’t be felt at all on this record; award-winning producer Mike ‘Spike’ Spent, who’s previously worked with the Gallaghers mixed ‘Hills End’ and, in the more tender moments of the album, they linger too.