Australian Britpop revivalists DMA’s bring back a mid-nineties sound and attitude on their first full length album Hills End. The trio, consisting of members: Tommy O’Dell, Matt Mason, and Johnny Took, were reared down under with the music of Oasis and Blur as well as others, and these influences can be heard all over the twelve tracks presented here. The first three songs on Hills End do a fine job of establishing DMA’s style and showcasing the group’s strengths.
“Timeless” opens the set with an edgy feeling that has the boys creating a tense hold-and-release chord structure alongside hyper drumming and splendid lead guitar work. Although almost five minutes in length, the song feels much shorter, as it’s kept interesting by the bracing anticipation built up before each explosive chorus. “Lay Down” follows, and while no slower in tempo than the album’s opener, feels much more free and loose. The summery lead guitar work is perfectly suited for this song about new love that uses naturalistic lyrical imagery to analogize the excitement of a budding romance. The album’s single “Delete” is next and is an absolutely gorgeous ballad. With a gently strummed acoustic guitar and synths that slowly rise from the background, the song is an obvious standout.
The next three tracks unfortunately don’t hold the attention demanded by the initial trio. Much of the problem seems to be the reverb saturated synth work taking place just underneath the surface. This production choice kills a good part of the sincerity in the vocals and causes listener indifference. It isn’t until the seventh song, “So We Know”, that the album regains its footing. Demonstrating again their prowess with balladry, DMA’s score another winner with this lovely acoustic number about love lost.
The final songs on Hills End have DMA’s dipping into optimistic indie pop territory with “Straight Dimensions”, finding success with an Oasis inspired Wonderwall-like tune titled “Blown Away”, and ultimately concluding with “Play It Out”, a song that has the band going out on a tense, rocking whirlwind appropriately similar to the record’s first track.
Hills End isn’t perfect, but fans of Britpop will appreciate what’s being resurrected here. Whether or not the arrival of DMA’s causes a resurgent interest in the two-decade old genre remains to be seen. Regardless, the band have a solid first album that will satisfy their present fan base and undoubtedly court new devotees.