Dianas: Leave Love

- Dianas really do make my mind work out, even though I feel like they shouldn’t! Listening to the Melbourne based, all-girl trio’s new tape, Leave Love, I go “oh, yeah, sounds like Dum Dum Girls or Vivian Girls.” They do, which is kind of nice, because the fad for that dreamy, retro, fuzzy sound has died down a bit now. Yet there’s something more to it than that.

It may be because the inspiration for all of these bands is actually pretty complex, taking in not just dreampop and shoegaze, but also Dick Dale surf, Shangri La’s girl-group sweetness, slightly off-kilter punk a-la The Raincoats and just an eddy of swirling psychedelia. Ironically, the sound of Diana's new cassette EP is actually quite unified: bopping along all perky and upbeat beneath the reverb and phasers. I guess, as the six songs wend their way through the same formula, I’ve got the time to sit back and wonder what exactly goes into putting that formula together.

As I’ve indicated, if you’ve heard advance single Somebody Else, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re going to get here, although this particular cut is the Dianas par-excellence: the vocal harmonies in the chorus are as infectious as early-’90’s Cranberries. Interestingly, I think what makes this song so effective is that it forsakes that naive, DIY quality that is one of the Dianas hallmarks. The contrast of the shy vocal sweetness and that unexpectedly tour-de-force riff is a hook, no doubt.

Some of the other songs here suffer a bit by comparison, especially because they are on the face of it, so similar. Only they don't quite reach the benchmark set by Somebody Else:  that one time where they turned the guitars up higher and just went for it, all the tumblers snapping into place and, bam, mission-accomplished. Songs like Heart Of Me or the title-track are good but sound just that little bit less self-assured, energetic, emphatic.

For that reason I was very glad to hear closer Priorities. It throws the playbook out the window in favour of a completely different and complexly intriguing game-plan. A morality tale, sort of, it splits into two halves: one where Caitlin Moloney and Nathalie Pavlovic “wake up in the comfort of no bad decisions made, no wrong done” and sounding like a sung airline emergency procedure presentation, “safety is our priority” they warble repeatedly. The gentle pop lilt builds speed and volume, guitar getting increasingly out of control before the girls fly back in over the top, wailing “Don’t you want to have some fun!? … Do something stupid just because!” The song resets to the original lilting tempo and the girls wake up again “...in a haze of doubt / memories of the things you’ve done / claw their way out.” Long story short? As the song builds back to another bacchanalian climax, I’m not sure the Dianas learn very much at all from the experience. That may or may not work as a morality tale, but it sure works as a song. It’s a thrilling finish to the tape and I could’ve stood to have heard more like it.

Dianas only came back from a brief hiatus a year ago and they must’ve been working pretty hard to get around to releasing this EP on top of their touring. Perhaps there was a little tunnel-vision involved in getting it out to the listening public? They’re such an inherently intriguing band it’s impossible not to like what’s on offer. In the end all this will surely work in Dianas’ favour, because now I’m left wanting more.

- Chris Cobcroft.

Album Details

Album Title: Leave Love
Artist: Dianas
Record Label: (Healthy Tapes / Inertia)