DMA’S have paired their Newtown-takes-Britpop stylings with sparkling synths and electro-pop beats to reach an elevated sound on their new record THE GLOW. Rather than fearing change, they’ve embraced it and pushed their record to a new place while maintaining the warmth and sincerity of their songwriting.
The Sydney trio have come a long way since recording in a run-down apartment while creating their 2016 debut Hills End. For their third record, they collaborated with producer Stuart Price (Madonna, The Killers, New Order) and experimented with synthesizers and drum machines in the studio to achieve this new vibe.
The album opens with rattling percussion and euphoric waves of synth on ‘Never Before’, which works as a nice introduction to this sonic shift in gears. The album’s title track is a highlight and was a work in progress over a few years. It’s taken many forms and Tommy O’Dell described it as a snapshot of where the band was and is now. The final product is an infectious chorus and jovial guitar riffs layered over a dance-worthy current of alt-pop.
In this reviewer’s opinion, DMA’S put the record’s best foot forward by dropping ‘Silver’ as the first single. While it’s probably one of the more traditional-sounding tunes on the tracklist, there’s no denying the gorgeous lyricism and heart-swelling hooks.
As well as a desire to try something new, a change of scenery also inspired THE GLOW. Ahead of the recording process, Johnny Took spent ten months living in Edinburgh. Every day he’d walk the city’s cobblestone streets and bask in the Scottish chill while blasting Chemical Brothers and Underworld through his headphones. These experiences are encapsulated on ‘Life Is A Game of Changing’, which rushes in with bubbling dance beats and dramatically climbing synth that pulls on the heartstrings. Inspired by this time in his life, the lyrics are a reminder to stay true to yourself even as you evolve and experience new things.
The album slows down with the club ballad ‘Criminals’ and its anthemic chorus that is made to be echoed back by a massive live audience. ‘Learning Alive’ is another standout on the tracklist. Tommy sings of allowing yourself to grow and change (“We’re getting better with time,” he croons) over a clean piano melody and a cascade of strings that build across the bridge. DMA’S undoubtedly dabble with new genres on the record, but they never completely lose their renowned love for ’90s nostalgia. You can certainly hear their infatuation with the era across the back-to-back indie-pop goodness of ‘Hello Girlfriend’, ‘Appointment’ and ‘Round & Around’.
THE GLOW closes with the melancholy and sobering ‘Cobracaine’. Matt Mason originally wrote the song in high school when he witnessed how many kids’ lives were cut short by drunk driving during the annual schoolies season. As he explains, “There are often quite a lot of car accidents. It’s a pretty sad time, kids die as soon as they finish school.” The track combines a more sombre electro sound with heavily produced vocals to create a haunting final curtain.
THE GLOW is a moving genre-bending body of work that sees DMA’S explore new sounds without losing sight of who they are.
THE GLOW is out today. DMA’S are known for pulling off a killer live show and luckily for Sydney-siders, they’ll get a chance to experience ‘The Glow’ in the flesh at six ‘Unplugged and Intimate’ shows at the Factory Theatre at the end of this month.