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August 7, 2006 | by  | in Music |
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Dimmer – There My Dear

New Zealand has few members of its rock ‘royalty’ that deserve the label good and proper and Shayne Carter is undoubtedly one of them. Carter has such an unashamedly modest profile for someone so accomplished. He’s gone from Flying Nun obscurity with bands such as the Double Happys, to courting audience neglect and critical acclaim with the Straightjacket Fits and releasing two of the most poised and listenable New Zealand releases of the 21st Century (2001’s I Believe You Are a Star and 2004’s You’ve Got To Hear the Music). New Zealand has made a lot more fuss over the far less talented. A week or so ago There My Dear sort of whimpered into stores (there was the whole Steve Braunias Sunday fawn).

The vaguely publicised back story of the album is heartache. There My Dear draws on all the classic girl-dumps-boy material that has been propping up popular music for years. The album runs the course of a relationship falling apart, and examines what is left. ‘Don’t Even See Me’ (easily the most accessible and straight rock song Carter has written under the Dimmer moniker), ‘Going Nowhere’ and ‘Under the Illusion’ all capture a man holding on to the dying light of a relationship perfectly. ‘You’re Only Leaving Hurt’, ‘Scrapbook’ (an angry jam, similar to Star’s ‘Seed’), ‘One Breath at a Time’ serve as the album’s second act – depicting the break up with shifting pace and intensity. ‘I Won’t Let You Break My Heart Again’, ‘Mine’ and ‘What’s a Few More Tears to the Ocean’ are dripped with biting anger and bitter sweet melody. The emotion never falls on emo-cliché. These are easily the most ‘traditional’ batch of songs that Carter has produced with Dimmer, but it’s no sell out. It’s Star meets Hear the Music on an emotional razor-edge. And special mention must go to the quite superb packaging.

Dimmer’s previous work has leaned on slow-burning atmospherics, relying on getting across a mood to help set meaning and context of any particular song. The building atmospherics are present on There My Dear, but he goes past this. ‘You’re Only Leaving Hurt’, the jewel in this album’s crown, is a masterpiece of beauty and intense emotion. Carter drops the tricks and shows that when you take away the gutteral jams and skewed effects, he is truly one of New Zealand’s great songwriters.

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About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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