On paper, DMA’s are a curious concept. Three lads from Australia raised on a diet of their uncles’ record collections and shipped-in copies of the NME aping a certain brothers Gallagher with such attention to detail the effect is almost comical- especially when they open their mouths, betrayed immediately by their accents.
It’d be a cheap shot to just dismiss them from the off, though. Their homegrown British contemporaries have hardly been setting the bar high for guitar music retromancery- anybody remember Viva Brother?- and sometimes all that’s needed is a fresh perspective to shake things up and make them vital and relevant again. Judging from the atmosphere at tonight’s packed-out gig, whatever they are doing seems to be working. It’s a cliché, but the air is thick and fizzy with anticipation before their arrival onstage, clusters of teenagers in carefully selected sportswear ensembles chatting excitedly and jostling amiably for space with older mods and musos.
It’s a shame, then, that the band don’t seem to share in their excitement. Sauntering onstage, hardly visible through the results of an over enthusiastically deployed smoke machine, Johnny, Matt and Tommy barely acknowledge the devoted bunch in front of them before ploughing ahead. Nerves, perhaps, or just plain cockiness, it’s hard to tell if their surly attitude is reactionary or just impressive commitment to the Gallagher copycatting. Not that anybody seems to care much- album highlight ‘Play It Out’ is transformed here from sprightly pop cut to cathartic stadium anthem, such is the fervour with which the crowd bellow it back.
The much-mentioned Oasis similarities are shockingly flagrant- the bucket hats, hands behind backs, chins tilted skyward- and yet DMA’s particular brand of Britpop feels strangely watered down, more tender and twinkling than bombastic. More often than not, tracks recall the dreaminess of My Bloody Valentine, and ‘Melbourne’ smacks of DIIV’s dark surf pop. While this occasionally works to their advantage- the sparkling, intuitive guitar lines on ‘Straight Dimensions’ a noticeably gorgeous highlight- the lack of grit and substance leaves each song to noodle and meander into the next to form an unremarkable, if pretty, haze.
DMA’s aren’t going to change the world- their weirdly detached performance tonight hints at them starting to suspect this themselves- but the touchingly earnest devotion of the people in the room makes any of that seem wholly irrelevant.
Words by Charys Newton