It took me a while to get around to listening Dick Diver, a lot longer than I should’ve waited. I waited longer to listen to Dick Diver than Axl Rose takes to braid his hair. But a Melbourne four piece signed to Chapter Music, combined from members of Eastlink, Straightjacket Nation, The UV Race, Boomgates et. al., as well as a bromance between Rupert Edwards and Alistair McKay that creatively envies that of Forster and McLennan is something that feels like a must have for Rye-Rye’s record collection. Maybe it was the dick joke that wasn’t really a dick joke, or the popularity surrounding their second record ‘Calendar Days’ that made me think that they weren’t worth the time to check out. I mean, how can any sort of band with ‘hype’ be any good? Dontcha know that the mainstream music press is just a circlejerk between the major labels and the editors of NME? Shit, all the @goodmusic comes from the blogosphere, every punk knows that!
But it wasn’t until I sunk my teeth into the glassy, suburban poetry of songs like “Through the D”, “Walk for Room” and “Water Damage” that I managed to chuck away the preconceptions I held around this band, and embrace them for the amazing and unique group they are, as opposed to the “…unwilling pioneers of a joke genre called Dolewave” as Wikipedia so bluntly puts it. Dick Diver are extending upon the great works that The Go-Betweens established, echoing the 80’s aesthetic, but in no way ripping it off. Dick Diver stand at the centre of a broad collection of current guitar-pop artists that is wealthier than Scrooge McDuck’s pool of gold.
For their third record, Dick Diver immediately go for the self-deprecation. It’s right there, in the title: ‘Melbourne, Florida’. What better way to silence critics that say the band lean too strongly upon their homebase of Melbourne than to name your record after a city with the same name on the other side of the world? But the jokey atmosphere more or less ends there, and it’s for the better. The songs on ‘Melbourne, Florida’ seem more confessional than before, and are accompanied by a more solemn musical palette than anything Dick Diver have utilised before. Don’t take that to mean the Melbsters have gone Kraftwerk, but there are splashes of morbid saxophone, mousey synths, and even some languid piano. There’s more confidence to lay things bare, and the result is a fantastically raw and slow-burning record.
Sure, the first two singles were about as ‘explosive’ as Dick Diver songs come, but “Tearing The Posters Down” and “Waste the Alphabet” are anomalies on the record. Fantastic, beautiful anomalies, but outliers nonetheless. That may have set folks up for a different kind of record, but its one worth pursuing regardless. You’re a fool if you don’t sit down with this album, and let Rupert/Al/Al/Steph’s voices serenade you with all their quiet might. The album is strong, packed with heartfelt throat-catchers, like the sliding, electric croon of “Private Number”, which is basically Yellow Brick Road-era Elton John being plopped in the middle of a depressed sharehouse in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Or the clicking Triffids-esque “Percentage Points”, which is as spiritually inspiring as anything from Hillsong, and cooler than Fonzie kicking a jukebox. Or the mildly bogan chugger of “Year in Pictures”, which sweetens itself into one of the ripest reflections that Dick Diver have ever performed.
On ‘Melbourne, Florida’, Dick Diver are looking back. They’re not defending themselves, but they are growing up, pondering shit and taking stock, and doing it all in the most audibly pleasing of ways. Dick Diver know how to make good albums, and ‘Melbourne, Florida’, is an example of said album. Don’t be like 17 year old Ryan, that kid was a dick. Make like 19-and-a-1/2 year old Ryan, and appreciate the shit out of some Dick Diver. It’s the mature thing to do.
‘Melbourne, Florida’ is out as of today on Chapter Music, get it from the Bandcamp here.