I first discovered Dilly Dally two years ago. I wasn’t in a particularly good place. I was drinking too much, and I’d frequently ditch the meds I take to manage my bipolar disorder. I wasn’t even really against medication. I’d just go off the pills for the hell of it.

Despite what people think about bipolar, I’ve always found my highs much worse than the lows. The lows are manageable; easy to anticipate. Back then, I’d just lock myself in my bedroom for two or so weeks with the lights turned down real low, watching bad television and old horror movies. I’m not saying those stretches of reduced mood were fun, of course. I’d think about how peaceful it would be to die a lot, and I’d drink and smoke till I felt sick. But at least they were predictable.

The highs were anything but. I always know when a high is coming on because things smell better. I’ll step outside, take a deep breath, and I’ll just be filled up, from top to toe. It will be as though everything has this secret, hidden meaning, just waiting for me to uncover. But that’s the only staple of my highs. Everything else is horrifyingly unexpected. I’ll drink too much; I’ll put myself into danger, sometimes willingly, sometimes not; I’ll spend too much money. And worst of all, it’ll feel amazing. There are a lot of very pleasant ways to destroy yourself, and when you’re on a high, you seek out every single one.

Watch the music video for the new Dilly Dally single ‘I Feel Free’ here:

I stumbled across Dilly Dally when I was first on a high. I remember that, because a great deal of Dilly Dally’s first record, Sore, sounds like how it feels to be manic. Before she even knew that I had bipolar, my mum would sometimes say I’d go ‘frazzled’. That’s the word that best explains mania, I reckon. When you’re high, you feel like pop rocks, or a fork jammed into a toaster – you have this buzz to you; this exhausting, gritty energy, as though you’ve been hollowed out and filled back up with gravel and static electricity.

That’s what Sore is like. People have said that Dilly Dally sound like Hole and a host of other early ’90s touchstones, but really, they don’t sound especially like anyone. They make music that’s about ice cream and scraped knees; about being so fucking jazzed that you can’t even bear to sit still; about the vicious kind of intelligence that racks you when you’re horny, or high, or hurt.

People have said that Dilly Dally sound like Hole, but really, they don’t sound especially like anyone.

I became obsessed with the band. I trawled their live sets online; I listened to that record over, and over again. I dreamed of them coming to Australia. None of that was particularly unusual. It’s very common to develop these all-encompassing obsessions when you’re on a high. While manic, I’ve taken up frenetic bouts of interest in Renaissance painting; in the work of Michel De Montaigne; in Final Fantasy; in the history of whiskey.

What was unusual, was that Dilly Dally lingered. Usually, these obsessions last the length of a manic episode, leaving you as this strange, hodge-podge assortment of pieced together scraps of knowledge. You’re not really a master at anything – you have these malformed, primitive interest areas, none of which are substantial enough to make you an expert. But for whatever reason, Dilly Dally stuck in my craw. I returned to the record all the time; listened to the ball of barbed wire that caps the whole thing off, ‘Burned By The Cold’, when falling asleep.

Watch Dilly Dally perform ‘Burned By The Cold ‘ here:

And here’s the other weird thing that happened: my life got better. I started interning at the BRAG. I quit my last job, which, for some five years, had been enabling my drinking, and smoking, and general recklessness. It was a weird fucken’ time. A lot of it was hard. There are some things that take a long time to sort out. But then, suddenly, almost without me realising, there things were: sorted.

So it was strange to wake up recently and discover that my journey seems to have been mirrored by Dilly Dally themselves. The band are back. Their return has been draped in themes of death and rebirth; of what happens after you get yourself on the right track. In the video for lead single, ‘I Feel Free’, lead singer Katie Monks digs up the bodies of her dead bandmates. Intercut is something resembling Heaven; a white room, filled to the brim with light, the band moving through it like oil blossoming in water.

When you’re growing up, you think that the most punk rock thing you can be is dangerous, and angry, and fucked up. Then, slowly, you learn the truth – that kindness, and strength, and resilience have a crackling energy all of their own. That the really brave thing to be in an ugly, difficult world is the opposite. ‘I Feel Free’ is the sound of a band that have that all figured out. It’s the sound of a band renewed.

The new single from Dilly Dally, ‘I Feel Free’ is out now. The band’s second record, Heaven, is coming out on Friday September 14. For more longform criticism, read our thoughts on the new Jack River album here.