Album Review: DMA's - 'The Glow'
A nod towards the early 90s rave scenes, Australian trio DMA’s have blessed 2020 with a new record inspired by the likes of New Order and The Chemical Brothers.
The Glow is a nod towards the early 90s rave scenes, reminiscent of the ‘Madchester’ era and was recorded and mixed by Stuart Price, who worked with New Order themselves. The record builds upon the strong foundation laid in recent years, and exceeds what it promises to be; dark and euphoric, whilst elevating the core components of what makes the three band members unique.
Never Before introduces the record with a marriage of grit and composure. It is clear from the get-go that the band have sought to grapple with samples of Mancunian-esque dance that defined the 90s. Yet, they maintain the blissful rock nodding towards their roots from Hill’s End up to their current work. Title track The Glow carries on the same energy, with similar sounds but something a bit lighter and upbeat in O’Dell’s vocals which lifts the track with much more elation. Lead single Silver follows, breaking up the energy thus far with its slower opening. However, this certainly compliments the crescendo within the song immensely and highlights just how well crafted Silver is. Its layering of percussion, strings, and harmonies make for a track that truly creates immense space around it; it’s clearly built to be played loudly in an arena.
Second single Life Is A Game Of Changing appears as the biggest nod towards their influences of 90s dance giants. Upon its release, it may have struck existing DMA’s fans as something quite different from their usual, however it is undeniably a massive step up for the band and a clear demonstration of their malleability as artists. The pure euphoria of the track oozes throughout the composition and is a personal favourite for myself. Given the fact that it was remixed by dance duo Orbital shows that it retains the strongest foundation and demonstration of such dance influences amongst the entire record.
‘The record builds upon the strong foundation laid in recent years, and exceeds what it promises to be; dark and euphoric, whilst elevating the core components of what makes the three band members unique.’
The album sees somewhat of a break in Criminals with a paced opening, and providing something much more emotive and uplifting in its lyricism, yet it retains bursts of energy so as to keep it from being the record’s nominal ballad. Strangers visits somewhat similar territory in its opening, however it certainly goes deeper in exploring something grittier with its sound. O’Dell’s vocals also complement the track’s provocative feel, making for a single that perfects this marriage between raw and passionate rock, mixing in higher quality production to bring it to the next level. This track is another showing of the band’s awareness of their own capabilities to bring their established sound into another realm of aural bliss. Learning Alive is solid in O’Dell’s evocative vocals, lending itself to being the album’s standout ballad. Its compositional crescendo and spacious fusion of orchestral elements with acoustic sounds makes for something that is crucial to the record’s statement of an ability to flourish within multiple music dimensions.
During their support for Liam Gallagher’s UK tour, the band premiered the track Hello Girlfriend. It definitely strikes as a single with a pop-punk edge. Whether it is the vocals or guitar section is more difficult to place, however it preserves grit that is fundamentally ‘DMA’s’ at its core. Its bridge also brings it back into the band’s familiar range of retro-modern charm, and creates a great fit for the album. Appointment is another break. With acoustic lure, and comforting vocals, the song is another standout ballad, but in a different sense to Learning Alive. There’s layering in this song that nods to something less orchestral and more intimate. Yet, it still creates space around it but with somewhat more humility and intimacy.
‘[Cobracaine’s] lyricism is evocative and its overall sound is profound, breaking away from what may be considered typical from the trio’
The record begins to see its end with Round & Round, and Cobracaine. Both suggest a desire to end with a punch and repent for the slower resonance from the previous track. The former, Round & Round, is vocally stunning; layering harmonies and marrying O’Dell’s vocals with the composition to make an unstoppable force behind the track’s euphoric resonance. Its bridge nods back towards the 90’s dance handle, with synths and reverb reminiscent of the band’s influences in The Chemical Brothers and New Order. The final track feels much more tenacious from the beginning. Similar as before, there are underlying synths that bring the record back to its intentions. O’Dell’s vocals explore ranges, in parts, which are much more unfamiliar yet contribute to Cobracaine finishing the record with a fresher sound comparable to the album thus far, let alone their existing discography. Its lyricism is evocative and its overall sound is profound, breaking away from what may be considered typical from the trio.
The Glow is a creative milestone for the trio, complementing their previous success with MTV Unplugged to demonstrate the degree of their musicianship. It is addictive from start to finish; nostalgic of their influences in the 90s dance era, yet bringing familiar, but nonetheless original, charm to its sound. Upon its release, there is sure to be buzz surrounding its live debut, as it is clear the record was made to be heard through loud speakers with a large crowd in front of them.