DMA’s had just one dream. Success for their latest album. How Many Dreams? One. An admirably slim number to put all their hope into. It’s just the one dream, actually. Just the one style, too? It would seem so. Their baggy ruminations and the upbeat, Christian folk guitar that springs into action on title track How Many Dreams? is a sign of what to expect. Blurring just about every genre they can, supporting harmonies, electronic momentum and the percussion-led charge amount to little. Passive indie rock that proves toothless but thoroughly enjoyable in that immediately forgettable way. How Many Dreams? staggers out the return of the Australian three-piece, who have misplaced their confidence and lost it entirely in some places.
Dulled notes of autotuned pity strike through on that opening track. It makes the natural range feel machine-made, fed through artificial sweeteners and coming out considerably sickly. Their potential throughout this album is buried under thick and unconvincing layers of instrumental regression. Make no mistake, DMA’s could have something under all of that noise, and they do. Listen in well enough, cut through the messy production and hold out hope for guitar work as good as Olympia or lyrical prowess that maintains a standard on Everybody’s Saying Thursday’s the Weekend. Who’d have thought DMA’s would be fighting for our four-day working week? Fall in love with those instrumental hooks, and have your heart broken by the lack of them in the second half.
Even the sickly strings of Dear Future are winners. What does not win is the automatic tuning of Tommy O’Dell. The man has a strong voice without autotune choking the life and heart out of him. Their club-ready antics on I Don’t Need To Hide are hollow and made with the purpose of moving a live audience. Great music can do that without intention as clear as this. Therein lies the problem for How Many Dreams?. Inconsistencies in its pace make for an album tough to crack and harder to lose yourself in. Turning the waterworks on with Forever immediately after a club-ready meltdown which suffers static emptiness is a tough task for the gang. Fading Like a Picture struggles with that too, even when it administers some nice guitar licks from Matt Mason.
Struggling with their attempts at Britpop guitar work and trying to tie themselves to a mixture of baggy pumps and indie rock foundations, DMA’s fall prey to the cliché which runs through each genre. Caricatures of the avoidable remnants of three decades ago. Even with those dated appeals, the vague responsibilities of the lyricist and the hardened shell of heavy-set production styles makes for a difficult album to crack. Not through its appropriations of the indie rock of yesteryear but through the absence of thought when it came time to place everything together. An album that works without the parts assembled is a worrying sight for a band that has, together for a decade, not made much of an artistic impact. Their success will be guided by the jangle association Get Ravey will have. A strange pairing, a nonsensical one that sees the Australian outfit chase the larger swathes of British music culture from the 1980s and 1990s. It works as little as expected.