Album Review: DMA'S: How Many Dreams?


Niamh Kitson (she/her) reviews DMA's fourth LP: "a fresh, feel-good album"

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Image by Kalpesh Lathigra

By Niamh Kitson

DMA’s third album, The Glow, was released in July 2020, during a global pandemic which heavily restricted touring and promotion. Three years later, How Many Dreams? picks up where The Glow left off; the experimental electronic element is heightened but still complemented by the classic DMA’s acoustic guitar and casual coolness. The Sydney trio deliver a fresh, feel-good album – this time with the opportunity for fans to experience it live.

Prior to the album’s release, the band treated fans with five tracks to sample. The How Many Dreams? era began in August 2022 with the release of ‘I Don’t Need To Hide’. Debuted at Reading and Leeds festival the same month, the lead single of the fourth album slotted perfectly into the set list, acting as the ideal transition between the older music and the new album. It’s a tune fitting for a festival, too, with the chorus exploding into action, inviting the audience to dance. After hearing this song, I knew what to expect from the new DMA’S era: the synth-infused verses and heavily autotuned voice during the bridge, paired with Tommy O’Dell’s staple dreamy vocals are mirrored throughout the rest of the album. Opening with the assertion that “It’s our time honey, yeah”, I was left in anticipation for what the rest of the album would hold.

This was followed up by ‘Everybody’s Saying Thursday’s The Weekend’ – quite simply a brilliant title for a song. Alongside being a personal favourite of mine, it is clearly a fan favourite already, as it was voted into the Triple-J Hottest 100 for 2022. The latest single ‘Something We’re Overcoming’ was released as the last sample last month. Promoting the music video on Instagram, DMA’S captioned their post “we threw a party in our studio to film this clip”, highlighting the party atmosphere encapsulated in this song as well as the album as a whole.

The high standard of these early tunes, including ‘Olympia’ and ‘Fading Like a Picture’, is replicated throughout the rest of the album. Beginning with over a minute introduction into the eponymous ‘How Many Dreams?’, the album’s experimental nature is encapsulated in the first track. Not only does it feel fitting to open an album but also a set list.

Of course, it would not be a DMA’S album if there was not a healthy amount of acoustic guitar. ‘Dear Future’ is a slower, melancholy tune. At first it may seem like a classic DMA’S Britpop song, however it is beautifully accentuated by the strings during the chorus. This is replicated in ‘Forever’, demonstrating the bands’ continuing desire to stretch their sound, seven years after the release of their debut album, Hills End. ‘Fading Like A Picture’ also appeals to any lover of indie-rock; the song is dominated by a mega riff played by lead guitarist Matt Mason.

The album closes with ‘De Carle’, a five-minute electronic song with minimal lyrics and very little guitar. It is Groove Armada-esque, fit for any dance stage at a festival. If *How Many Dreams?’*s opening lyric was poignant, its closing lyric is even more so: O’Dell sings “We can be forever” as the song fades out.

With every DMA’S album, there is a distinct aesthetic choice. The single art for this era is minimalistic but effective, with a white background and what appears at first to be a random collection of letters, but is on closer inspection the letters constituting the song title spread into a pattern. In the same way, the album cover includes the lowercase letters ‘d’ ‘m’ ‘a’ and ‘s’ spread across, especially concentrated next to the photos of the band in the bottom left hand corner, who sport their classic caps. Paired with a neon green background and upside-down letters, this statement album cover is undoubtedly fitting for an album that effortlessly blends genres which may seem to be incompatible.

After starting 2023 with a run of homeland Australian shows, it seems like DMA’S are more than making up for their lack of touring in 2020 and 2021 this year. Their next six months are packed: from a run of UK academy shows in April, to European dates to a whole range of festivals in the Summer. Excitingly, the band have also just announced a run of intimate album launch shows, inviting fans to a deep dive into this stunning album. With a whole showcase of dance, pop, and indie-rock songs in DMA’S catalogue, these shows will really have something for everyone and are not to be missed. How Many Dreams? proves that, although they do have a distinct sound at the core of their music, DMA’S have the confidence to experiment with their sound and take influences from a whole range of places. DMA’S are, and hopefully will continue to be, a band that you can invest in and grow with.