After the longest-wait between albums in their 18-year career Dappled Cities return with their fifth full-length album Five (Stylised as |||||) on May 5. As the title suggests, Five is the Sydney indie pop group’s fifth record, With the trademark even-split of songwriting, singing and deft guitar work of Dave Rennick and Tim Derricourt, the solid backbone of bassist Alex Moore and drummer Allan Kumpulainen and the walls of texture added by keyboardist Ned Cooke, Five is the sound of a band filled with a quiet self-assurance. “I’d call this record grown up. I take pride in that,” Rennick says. Tapping into the timeless qualities of ’70s mavericks like David Bowie and Roxy Music, they’ve created songs that sound mature but undeniably sexy.
“A lot of the songs on Five were written in what we’ve called the Office Sessions” says Derricourt. “We would camp out in Dave’s office after-hours, overlooking Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, and jammed out the songs to the backdrop of street sounds, a lot of which made it onto the record.” The singer admits, “On Spacechild there’s an audible bus driving past which we decided sounded like a space ship.”
Writing Five was easy compared to the journey to see it released, a period of nearly two years, with plenty of hurdles along the way. “This record’s taken a really long time to get out.” Says Derricourt. “In 2014 we started writing songs and then in 2015 we went and recorded in Byron Bay. We were like ‘Good. This is great’ but in the meantime we’d basically parted ways with our manager and record label and almost lost our bass player Alex. It was touch-and-go for a while, because he’d had a kid. I don’t think he really wanted to leave though…”
Luckily for fans, Five has arrived, and doesn’t disappoint. “Once we got to album number five we lost all of our fear,” Derricourt explains. In some ways, Five sounds is a return to the textural, expansive sounds of Dappled Cities’ early records, dialing back on the propulsive stomp of Lake Air and settling into an easy groove that is no less danceable, but allows the band’s knack for melody to shine through.
The making of the album was a new experience, with Dappled Cities replacing the big city studios of their previous works with the serene atmosphere of Byron Bay. Settling in to the now defunct 301 studio in Byron Bay, the band rediscovered the magic of recording as a unit. “301 was a fully decked-out recording studio with a huge live room, to capture the full-band, future-classic record vibes. There’s almost no soft synth and no drum samples on the record – everything is real and played by humans.”
For the first time, the making of the album felt more like a holiday than a mission, with family and friends dropping by, late night jams matched with morning surfs and even the thrill of a skydive thrown in to keep the blood pumping.
Unlike Dappled Cities’ previous records A Smile, Granddance, Zounds and Lake Air, which were a collection of hook-ridden songs, Five is an album intended to played from beginning to end. A journey of sorts, although there’s one black sheep on the record – the first single from the album released in mid 2016, “That Sound” is a disco-funk-infused piece of synth pop. “The rest of the record is nothing like that single.” Says Rennick. “We were even thinking of leaving it off the record. It’s a cool song, but with the new record we’ve tried to create a body of work that had a cohesive