For music fans waiting the arrival of the perfect album to usher in summertime, this is it. Granddance is the sophomore effort from Australia's Dappled Cities, although for those of us on this side of the planet, it is more like a debut. After spending quite some time with this album, I've yet to settle on an accurate description or comparison, although I wouldn't say that is necessarily a bad thing at all. What these Aussies have given us is a totally original and enjoyable pop album with influences ranging from the Flaming Lips to Built To Spill, with a dash of Beach Boys' sunny Californian melody.
The album begins with "Holy Chord," a quirky track that jumps from falsetto vocals to pub singalong passages. I hear just a bit of The Shins when listening to this one, but Tim Derricourt's vocal stylings take this to a whole other level. There are a number of highlights on this album, such as the potential smash single "Fire Fire Fire." It really sneaks up on you, seeming like a somewhat innocent dreamy pop song. The catch is that once the chorus gets stuck in your head, you're a goner. It simply won't leave you alone. The genius part is that the song never feels forced or overly produced. It is simply just a fantastic pop song.
One thing about Granddance is that the title is far from misleading. Dappled Cities' songs are mighty grand, such as "Vision Bell." The song is fairly straightforward, with the dueling vocals of Dave Rennick and Tim Derricourt balancing between alto and falsetto. Where it gets interesting is during the chorus, bringing in a wash of warbled synths and slightly distorted vocals as they sing "but don't tell your heart." It is just a bit of Flaming Lips mixed with Grandaddy, and it is absolutely perfect.
"Within Hours" is one of the more sonically intense tracks on the record, driven by a military beat on the snare drum. The last minute or so is what makes Dappled Cities such a treat, with layered falsetto vocals and yelping birdcalls for the remainder of the song. Nobody sounds like this band, making them such a breath of fresh air. Even as they push the boundaries of the experimental part of their material, they never lose their grip on accessibility. Indie snobs and even passive music fans can hold hands in harmony over a band like this, as both extremes will be very pleased with Granddance.
Although these Australians might be under the radar here in the US, once people catch wind of this album it could all change. Songs like "Fire Fire Fire" are definitely strong enough to turn quite a few heads. For now we'll just enjoy having them as our little secret, as those days are most likely numbered.