Since the recent release of these two bloody great albums, they’ve been on repeat on every listening source I have access too. Both records share a uniquely Australian brand of songwriting that, above all else, feels genuine and comes from a place of honesty.
This is nothing new for Dick Diver or Courtney Barnett, but these records couldn’t be better examples of honest and seemingly simple songwriting. It’s modern Australian pop music at its finest.
Many superlatives have been banded around when referring to Barnett’s minute daily observations since ‘Avant Gardener’ attracted that much desired international blog attention. And this record certainly highlights her talent for those details.
The Melbourne songstress hasn’t shied away from talking about the influence of Australian music icon Paul Kelly on her tunes, and it’s certainly most obvious in her brand of story telling, but it’s Kelly’s nephew Dan Kelly that her quirky lyrical turns remind me of most. A quick listen to Kelly’s ‘I Will Release Myself (Unto You)’, ‘Dan Kelly’s Dream‘, or ‘Hold On, I’m Coming On‘ reveal those tongue-in-cheek observations that make a story come to life.
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit perfectly takes off from the platform Barnett created for herself from her early EPs. Her beautifully laconic voice matched with heavier instrumentation than previously recorded, like on ‘Small Poppies’ allows her to play with dynamics in telling her story.
While she does pull of the slacker vocals with ease, it belies her talent for singing simple and beautiful melodies like on absolutely cracker track ‘Depreston.’ There’s something about the way Barnett sings on that tune that just makes me stop whatever I’m doing and get fully enveloped in her imagery.
Dick Diver too have built on their previous offerings to create their most complete record Melbourne, Florida. By now a well established Melbourne favourite, this quartet divide their time between many other favourite bands including Total Control, Lower Plenty, Boomgates, and more.
They’ve retained their distinctive jangle that’s drawn plenty of comparisons to the Flying Nun sound, and combined it with their continued efforts to hone their songwriting craft that’s delivered beautifully intricate and thoughtful pop music. ‘Leftovers’ definitely captures this growth that will surely appeal to a wider audience.
It’s hard not to think of iconic Australian bands from the 80s like Icehouse and The Go-Betweens when getting amongst this album. As mentioned above, it most definitely sounds Australian but not in the sort of way that leaves images of wife-beaters and Southern Cross tattoos, more like the cultural centre of Melbourne and the country’s wide open spaces.
I can’t get passed the energy and tone of ‘Tearing the Posters Down’. The whole record is an absolute pleasure to listen to, especially in one sitting, but this track captures it all. The jangly guitar tone that sits above the constant drive provided by the rhythm section all underpinning the final group vocals is impossible not to enjoy.
So do yourselves a favour if you haven’t already, and give these two records and real good listen. If you love beautiful guitar-driven songwriting then these are certainly for you. It’s definitely difficult for me not to get heavily involved in each of these tunes.