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DIVE DIVE – The Revenge Of The Mechanical Dog (CD, Land Speed Records)

Posted: January 31st, 2007, by Simon Minter

Since their early days as Dustball, Dive Dive have always maintained a certain steady handed reliability, and been a super-tight live band with a knack for a certain familiar type of poppy indie rock. As a recorded prospect, however, they’ve left me slightly cold in the past, and it’s been hard to think of them as much beyond one of very many such bands like Jetplane Landing, Ash, Econoline and so on. A good band, don’t get me wrong, just not yet a great band.

I was hoping that this album might be the one that tips the scale toward greatness. For the first few tracks, it seems like it might not happen, and then a trio of songs – ‘Maybe I’m OK’, ‘Holding Back the Broken Door’ and ‘Take It, It’s Yours’ – solidify all of the glimpses of magic that Dive Dive have been hinting at over the past couple of years.

‘Maybe I’m OK’ leaps from its plaintive intro into a looping, loping guitar riff, before turning several melodic corners that take the never-not-hip angular guitar rock template and jam it artfully into a radio-friendly pop-shaped hole. ‘Holding Back the Broken Door’ takes its lead from early Placebo – it’s all vibrato vocals and guitar interplay over a relentlessly together rhythm section. ‘Take It, It’s Yours’ slows down the pace, with social-commentary lyrics developing a song from simple beginnings into a layered festival singalong tour de force: complete with requisite noisy forays and head-nodding bouncy bassline.

By the time these three short songs have passed, it’s clear that Dive Dive have finally nailed down what makes their live shows so enjoyable – on-the-money performances and arrangement, the combined forces of accessible melody and quirky dissonance, and enough stylistic breadth to maintain interest – and put it into recorded form. This is equally an aggressive, sensitive and playful album, and all the better for its self-imposed awkwardness. Like previous Oxford bands before them (Youthmovies and The Young Knives, for example) Dive Dive are attaining that rare combination of mainstream and experiment; familiarity and challenge.

Dive Dive

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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