Melbourne-based Dianas began as a drunken conversation between friends Caitlin Moloney, Nathalie Pavlovic and Anetta Nevin in a Perth sharehouse, and from that wine-soaked beginning, complete with heartbreak and stolen gear, they’ve collected their individual and shared stories onto Little Glimmer, released November 26 via Heavy Machinery Records and Blossom Rot Records. The album is a tighter, more elegant evolution in their sound, though its hallmarks – their sophisticated, tearjerker harmonies – remain central to their phonic personality.
“As self-taught musicians, we sort of learned together and helped each other to learn, so our skill level has gotten better over the years,” says bassist Pavlovic. “I feel like with this album I don’t feel pressure to show off too much. There’s more of a refinement, I think.”
Nearly ten years ago, the trio took their DIY attitude, newly-learned instrumental skills, and a bunch of sketchy pop-rock songs to the world on EP #01. That 2013 release, in its endearing lack of polished sterility, drew the attention of local radio and Perth fans. EP #02 in 2014 cemented their popularity and sold-out headline shows ensued.
The super straight-forward album titles were not a middle finger to the industry, claims Pavlovic. “We are notoriously bad at naming things, so it was just laziness,” she says with a laugh. One particular track on EP #02 was proving a challenge to title. “Caitlin was like, if you don’t name it in five seconds, we’re calling it ‘Dicks!’ We ended up naming it ‘Dix,’ so it’s fine.”
Their debut self-titled album of 2015 is all shoegaze melodies, post-punk noodling, echoey guitar and feline, dreamily sweet layered harmonies. “Of A Time” and “1000 Years” epitomise their lo-fi charm, while “I’m With You” trails over a rambling piano journey into blush pink clouds.
Baby Baby, their second album, came out in May last year, mere months into Melbourne’s on-off lockdown scenario. It is jagged and fuzzy around the edges, but it sways and dances with melodic ease. Somewhere between wakefulness and dreams, their sound borders that lucid, transient state. Insistent, upward spiralling guitar punctures through swirling melody on “Weather Girl,” while distorted, menacing snarls of guitar build into a fearful hail of harmonised voices crying “Real Love!” just three tracks later.
There’s been a shift in energy on Little Glimmer. The drums barrel, their voices sound more resolute, and the overall sense is that their range has stretched. While the core of their band will always be the pillar of friendship, it feels like they’ve strayed beyond the confines of past albums and EPs, even just vocally. It is the sort of confidence that comes from working with people who have your back.
“We’ve been friends for twelve years and it’s definitely gone into that sister-friendship,” Pavlovic says. “We don’t bicker or anything, but we don’t have to talk a lot. We get a bit annoyed with each other but it’s never a real annoyance. It passes pretty instantly, then we move onto the next thing. I have no doubt in my mind that [we] will always be friends. We have a weird bond, but it’s a bond nonetheless. We can go a long time without speaking, but we’ll always be playing music together as well.”
“Maybe it’s just that we met at the right time of our lives, that special time when you’re 19…” Pavlovic adds. “It feels like so long ago… like a whole other life. It was definitely a twist of fate moving in together.”
Pavlovic turned 30 during the pandemic. It wasn’t the flashy, big party she’d envisioned but she reflects that she’s happy about where she’s at. Perhaps the invitation to make an album with generous funding was better than a party; the band was contacted by the organisers of State Government and City of Melbourne funding initiative Flash Forward at the beginning of 2021, which ultimately brought Little Glimmer into focus.
“It was an amazing opportunity but the catch was that we had to do it really quickly,” Pavlovic reveals. “We had about six songs ready to go – we were planning on just doing an EP and calling it Little Sixer… [but we figured] we’ve got the support behind us, we may as well just go in and try to do an album, just really push ourselves because we usually take ages to do stuff. It was five years between our last two.”
They took a pragmatic attitude, drawing up a schedule and heading off to James Cecil’s Super Melody World studio in the Macedon Ranges, in regional Victoria (Cecil is on a roll, having just hosted Georgia State Line, too). Fortunately, between Melbourne lockdowns, they’d been able to get together and demo the songs so that they knew the direction of the album before arriving in studio.
“We planned to do it all in one sitting, but then we blew up the amp on the third day. So we had to break it up into two little lots with a little break in between,” Pavlovic says, noting that overall, recording took just under a week – longer than they’d planned, but not by much.
Pavlovic does sound production on the side, and had recorded and mixed Baby Baby, so studying Cecil at work on Little Glimmer was of personal interest for her. She immediately recognised their very different approach. “He found some really cool sounds, especially in the mixing,” she says. “I wish I could have watched him mix, because it did sound good when we were recording but when it was mixed it was really, really great.”
One song proved to be a challenge to wield into a human-sized song.
“’One and Only’ was really hard…we knew it needed a funky bassline, for want of a better word, but it just kept sounding really epic,” Pavlovic remembers. “The lyrics are quite emotional and quite hard hitting, so we needed to keep it light with the music so it didn’t sound like a real big, epic score of a movie: really devastating, you know? The bass made it a lot better… finding that right combination of three different types of keyboards – a vibraphone, some organ – that combination made it sound less epic than just the piano, which was the original plan.”
The original six tracks have blossomed into eleven and there’s no “Dix,” no indication an amp exploded and no cinematic excursions into the ethereal. It’s a definitive, distinguished Dianas album.
“We put so much time and effort into creating the album. It all happened so quickly, I can’t believe it’s out,” Pavlovic admits. “That’s a little bit overwhelming!”
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