Any indie pop band from Australia is going to get compared to the Go-Betweens; it's inevitable. Melbourne's Dick Diver have been one of the few to actually be worthy of such heady praise. Over the course of an EP and two albums, they've gone from a scrappy, brainy quartet to a less scrappy, more grown-up group, balancing brains and emotion like they were born to do it. On their third album, Melbourne, Florida, Dick Diver show more growth, expanding their palette of sound and coming up with their best, richest effort yet. Adding keyboards and horns to the mix is an easy way to say that a band is thinking about important stuff, that it isn't just some little guitar pop band anymore. Sometimes it comes off as false and stuffy, but Dick Diver do it in a way that's totally organic and never contrived. It gives their sound a new dimension and opens them up to writing different kinds of songs, even some that barely have guitars on them at all. And a couple that unplug and get deep into a solo Forster or McLennan feeling. As before, all four members write and sing, with bassist Al Montfort turning in one of the album's best, the odd yet affecting "Beat Me Up (Talk to a Counselor)." Drummer Steph Hughes shines on the lopingly pretty ballad "Leftovers," which comes complete with some sweeping pedal steel and sounds like a C&W Pastels. The rest of the album is filled with witty, hooky songs that feel like instant classic indie pop, with clear production from Mikey Young (who has worked on all their albums to date). It was recorded in an old sheep-shearing shed in the middle of nowhere, and it sounds like the locale inspired the bandmembers to look inward, experiment, and ultimately create the kind of album their previous works had been pointing to, with individual songs good enough to stand alone (like the insistently poppy "Tearing the Posters Down" or "Waste the Alphabet") but taken together adding up to something important and real. No band will ever be able to replace the Go-Betweens or fill the void their demise left, but if Dick Diver keep making albums as deeply satisfying as Melbourne, Florida, the pain will be a little less severe.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra