(Herald rating: * * * *)

Dimmer's 2001 debut I Believe You Are A Star was a belated but terrific first move from the former Straitjacket Fits frontman Shayne Carter.

After years of screaming and sneering over big guitars, he turned down the amps, booted up the computer and starting pulling his songwriting apart and putting it back together again, detail by exacting detail. The result was a mesmerising album, as much a mood-piece as a set of songs.


While locally praised to the heavens, it largely fell on deaf ears commercially.

It didn't help that Dimmer's slow-burning music didn't exactly fire on stage, either.

You imagine some of the second album might stoke the live set nicely. That said, You've Got To Hear the Music isn't quite as gripping or experimental as its predecessor.

Though it does have a bigger, wobblier bottom, especially on opener Come Here (which recalls both Brian Eno and the post-punk funk likes of Shriekback) and Getting What You Give (which, with its Sly and the Family Stone bassline and guest horns from Fat Freddy's Drop, suggests the early 80s Dunedin band Carter really wanted to be in was the Netherworld Dancing Toys).

Along its way through the 11 tracks, it throbs with dark intent (Searching Time); guitars jangle through hushed hypnotic downtempo numbers (Only One That Matters, which could have been a SJF in a former life); and towards the end Carter's falsetto-heavy singing increasingly gives way to conspirational whisper and the music becomes increasingly spartan.

Which can mean the tunes tend to lose their grip in the closing stages, though closing track Finality delivers a delicately pretty coda.

But with its bent grooves and odd wiring, You've Got To Hear the Music is an album that stays intriguing on repeat listens.

Label: FMR