New Start Again, the debut album by Melbourne foursome Dick Diver, is warm and understated, shot through with casual grace and supported by real backbone.
It’s an intriguing combination of widescreen Australian sweep, 70s New York edge and 90s indie-rock scratch that transcends its influences to become truly honest and exciting.
The respectively wry and poetic songwriting of guitarists Rupert Edwards and Alistair McKay lobs Dick Diver up alongside Go-Betweens heroes Forster & McLennan, while their often epic fretwork bears echoes of Television and Yo La Tengo.
But bassist Al Montfort’s impeccable punk pedigree (UV Race, Total Control, Straightjacket) roughs up the band’s bookish proclivities, while drummer Steph Hughes brings a similarly frayed-edge appeal. Her background in bands from Children Collide to Boomgates gives the band an offhand, subtly swinging charm.
Their first EP, 2009’s Arks Up, enjoyed Triple J rotation and community radio thrashing, and brought shows with Stephen Malkmus and a Boogie Festival appearance, amongst other plaudits.
Rupert and Al Mc hogged the songwriting duties on the EP, but New Start Again, recorded with Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s Mikey Young at an old homestead in country Victoria, is a much more even-handed affair.
The band share songwritng, swap instruments, and introduce new sounds like pedal steel, piano, and slide guitar. Steph and Al Monty’s title-track duet, especially, provides a laidback, cheeky counterpointo their bandmates’ more considered efforts.
Rupert, meanwhile, provides lovelorn-but-snappy first single Through the D and sook-pop classic On the Bank, while Al Mc displays impressionistic lyrical flair on tracks like Hammock Days and Seagulls. And on closing track Head Back, the four loosen their collars to create probably the funnest five minutes of music released in Australia in 2011.