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Record Reviews


Dick Diver
Calendar Days

I got into Dick Diver late, not properly listening to 2011's New Start Again until mid-way through 2012. I'd just left the man I was supposed to marry (though to my lasting shame, I made him do all the walking) and my best mates had moved interstate forever, and everything fucking sucked, so I jumped back into the music I'd been missing to fill every void and solidify each unsure step. I thought I was depressed and hopelessly lost but in hindsight it was probably the happiest and clearest of mind I'd ever been. I didn't know it at the time. You never do.

And so here was this album, that was fresh and young and the music was carefree but the lyrics were bruised, with these Australian voices — real voices, real accents, not Americanisms or forced strine — singing about Australian settings and motivations without any cringe or pretension, singing about loneliness and uncertainty and missed connections and being on the dole and being down on your luck and it felt like coming home. I immersed myself in that album, made it my favourite. It soundtracked my own new start, which I managed to completely fuck up. And so here we are again.

Calendar Days explores new starts, too, but here they haven't stopped feeling like endings yet. The songs here exist in the time after — the reflective lull after the water recedes and only the damage remains, the clean up yet to begin — but the dramas that led them here are only ever hinted at; little glimpses of narrative that vaguely contextualise the moment — a broken home, a love that never quite was, a friendship lost for good. A line like Water Damage's "You needed friends, but so did I, now everybody's turning like Venetian blinds," paints an extraordinary picture with such a small palette, even before the kicker: "I'd rather go and make my own terrible time apart." Or there's Amber, where "You're always with me, do you ever feel the same way?" is later followed by "Nothing ever happens here, but it will", and the story's already told, leaving the song to dwell inside its own head, pondering the memories and what to do next. Calendar Days concerns itself mostly with the past, but it addresses it firmly in the cold, clear present.

And so what is there to do but move on? Head out, piss around and smoke with your mates, as on Blue & That, where an aimless walk through the streets — from the playground, past the smashed phone booth and the pool — is broken up with the occasional musing on what you're walking from, quickly discarded to return to the moment's distraction ("'Forget her, man' / 'Forget who?'", "Should I dye my hair? / Are you high yet?"). Drive away, make your breaks "for the good of us all" (Two Year Lease), go out at night with "nostalgia inverted" (Lime Green Shirt) and get a fucking dream. Take time off, sit immobile in front of the analogue TV ("There wasn't much between Channel 2 and Channel 9") and think about "everything that happened to me" (Gap Life). Straddle the past and the future and work out where you go from here.

It's unclear whose stories these are, with phrases and names overlapping across songs. The line "A car tyre rubber blooming around your legs" appears, though slightly altered, on both Blue & That and Calendar Days, sung by Rupe Edwards and Steph Hughes respectively, the phrase 'water damage' is heard on Calendar Days, and old mate Sandy hangs around a lot — on the phone, there to point out a familiar face to, able to drive when he's needed. It ties the album together, the mood and perspective working to connect songs by four different writers, songs that mightn't otherwise fit in each other's company, compared to New Start Again's steady flow. But they work — one of Calendar Days' greatest attributes is that you can see the seams.

And so Dick Diver's moving on, trying to break up the calendar days. They're older, perhaps wiser, definitely sadder, but still making the kind of music that hits you right under the sternum and lifts you by your pits as you make your own unsure steps. There's reassurance in the sadness here, and after the wait since the first, album number two feels happily and clearly like coming home.

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Dick Diver


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