It’s fitting that I write this review on a day where the mercury is set to rise into the high thirties. It’s not a Queensland summer yet, though the temperature is starting to argue so. It’s not a Queensland summer yet, though the concrete is starting to blister the soles of feet in the midday heat. And the ceiling fans are about to work overtime as they circulate the humid air on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The flies are more prevalent around the weekend barbecue, and it’s getting into that time of the year where mosquito bites are found on sunburnt limbs the morning after a few too many beers out on the veranda. It’s during the heated months that us Queenslanders desire a soundtrack that perfectly encapsulates the sheer misery of the summertime, whilst simultaneously celebrating the season that only a true Queenslander could appreciate. In time we have had Powderfinger, The Go-Betweens, hell even Regurgitator, to cure our summer ailments. Now, Brisbane locals Dumb Things have given us another record that will fit nicely alongside a couple of snags and an ice-cold stubbie.
Dumb Things’ sophomore album Time Again begins immediately with the strum of jangly guitars and the crash of cymbals. It’s abrupt, only broken up by the picking of a thin guitar riff. The band quickly enter with a breezy, swaying melody; the guitars mimic each other with bright chords lazily strummed. The vocals follow the lackadaisical approach of the instrumentals, almost like a non-distorted Dinosaur Jr track. It’s a sweet opener, tinges of bright summer sun shimmering through in the backing melodies and simple guitar riffs.
Crash Barrier and Suburbs continue Dumb Things’ jangle-pop approach, the latter sounding like a Go-Betweens track; the nonchalant, almost spoken word approach a trademark of the great Brisbane band. Madeleine Keinonen’s shimmering vocals contrast beautifully against her deeper sounding bandmates, while still maintaining the lackadaisical aura that surrounds Dumb Things’ music. Carpark Daydream is an upbeat and uplifting tune, though at close to five minutes, it’s certainly the longest song on the album and tends to overstay its welcome in its repetitiveness.
Waiting Out slows the pace of the album down to a relaxing sway. Guitar strings are breezily picked, creating a tranquil ebb and flow as the drums hold a simple hypnotic rhythm. It’s calm and unassuming, though the band quickly bring the pace up on Fade Away – the snare and cymbals chime in what sounds like bullet speed compared to the previous tune. The band use their guitar riffs almost like motifs, first played in the intro and repeated between verses. They are simple, yet entirely memorable from track to track, like the bouncy jangled guitar riff on Fade Away, or the shimmery swinging riff on Easier Said, a standout track on the album as the band sing “cause the rain has come, and washed away all your fun.”
The album closes on my favourite song in the track list, Time Again. Taking its name from the album title, Time Again packages everything Dumb Things do right into one track. They perfectly balance melancholy with happiness as guitar strings lazily bend and slide at their own pace. Keinonen’s backing harmonies are distant and smoky, elevating the calm lead vocals. It’s a tune that deserves the subtle relief of an orange and pink painted sky after a blistering summer day; a cold beer in hand as you take in the Queensland beauty.
Time Again isn’t an album that demands your attention, but instead treads on familiar ground that feels like coming home to a friendly face. Dumb Things walk the road paved by the Queensland greats before them, but in their breezy and charmingly laid-back song writing, they encapsulate a mood that is quintessentially Australian. Dumb Things have bottled up Queensland’s past and present and laid it out on ten tracks, ready to be released at first sight of the summer sun. But let’s be honest, this is Queensland and summer never ends.
Time Again is available digitally on November 8, 2019, and on vinyl November 22, 2019 through Coolin’ By Sound Records and Redeye Worldwide.
This review is based upon a copy of Time Again made available before release.