There’s something instantly recognisable about the music of Dick Diver and it’s not just carried through the vocals. It’s a tonal thing – a sort of lilt in the guitars and fluidity of sound – and it somehow reacts with my brain chemistry in a pleasant way, making each song likeable and memorable. They’re the kind of band that you see once and their tunes remain with you. The great thing about this is that whenever you see Dick Diver again, you recognise your little song buddies and you actually feel part of it somehow – you connect.
Dick Diver have an amazing tune called ‘Tender Years’ which they released on their EP ‘Arks Up’ in 2009. The song was a regular show closer for the band from the early days and I felt slighted that they omitted it from an all-too-brief ten-track album. Initial reservations aside, ‘New Start Again’ ambles ever so slightly through the first number ‘Through The D’ and I’m wondering whether the wait for a debut has been worth it. It has all the trademark slack tones and tangled guitars, but as an opener it fails to grab. Second song, ‘Hammock Days’ however, rights the ship and from here on in the album takes shape as a collection of Melbourne stories structured around fab lyrical passages and fine guitar work.
The exploration of vocal harmonies pays off here. A double-fronted unit (Alistair McKay and Rupert Edwards), they have the luxury of leaning on the vocal support of bass player Al Montfort (also of Straightjacket Nation, UV Race and, more recently, Total Control) and drummer Steph Hughes (Boomgates, Children Collide) – no slouches in their own rights. Rather than saturating the album in four-part vocals though, they subtly dot pairings through the recording to fantastic effect.
The album’s nexus comes in the form of sixth track ‘Flying Teatowel Blues’. The almost talked vocal is cut by the most unforgettable and simple chord progression and ripping solos, the thing is so understated and perfect it feels like they’re not even trying. Coupled with Twerp’ self-titled debut (also out this month), ‘New Start Again’ has summer barbecue written all over it, yet both records convey this shadow of sadness that lingers in around the edges of their songs. It’s thinking people’s barbecue music, and is in every way well worth the wait.