Recording information: The Janz's Place, Phillip Island.
Australian quartet Dick Diver proved right away on their debut album, New Start Again, that they are worthy heirs to the tradition of the Go-Betweens, crafting smart, somewhat unassuming guitar pop with a rich emotional depth and a literary bent. Their second album, 2013's Calendar Days, shaved some of the early days' rough edges off their sound and presented them in a spiffier setting, with more fleshed-out arrangements and more considered songs. Kicking off with a trio of tunes Forster and McLennan would have been proud to call theirs, the restrained ballad "Blue and That," the chiming folk-rocker "Alice," and the rollicking title track, the album maintains the pace with lots of wonderful midtempo guitar pop, but takes time to get a little weird too. The oddball cabaret ode to boys, "Boys," is something of a showstopper, the nearly a cappella duet "The Two Year Lease" slows the album to a breathtaking crawl, and album closer "Languages of Love"'s pitch-shifted guitars and jerky tempos add a little new wave angularity to an otherwise scuff-free surface. These diversions are fun and show that the band can be silly and super-serious, but what makes Calendar Days tick are the jangling guitars, the heartfelt vocals, and the nostalgic melodies that form the core of the best parts of the album. The lads and lass of Dick Diver may be treading a path that was once trod upon by giants, but they do things their own way on Calendar Days and that makes them a band worth checking out, here and always. ~ Tim Sendra