On Hail Something, Dikembe wield a grungy '90s emo style with restraint, ably meshing meaty rock sections with fragile, intimate breaks in the pace. Frontman Steven Gray often sounds like he's on the brink of snapping, at times sympathetic and at others unnerving. But it all seems rather half-hearted. The band sound washed out, while Gray sounds downright exhausted. Sadly, Hail Something also suffers greatly from poor production; while many have pulled off the raw, lo-fi sound — genre staples like Texas Is the Reason and Sunny Day Real Estate come to mind — it makes everything here sound flimsy and strained. Even the album's worthiest efforts, like the emotionally taut "All Wrong," the chunky, catchy "Earth Around Me" or the quirky, dissonant "Shelf," are flat and dry when they could have sounded refreshingly dynamic and purposeful.
It's wonderful to watch artists evolve from something that's more or less derivative, yet satisfying, into something that's more complicated, and great. Unfortunately, Dikembe's quest for their own distinctive sound has turned up something regrettably forgettable. However one describes Hail Something, it's probably bound to be mildly positive, if unenthusiastic, and that's a shame considering the band's very evident potential. (Independent)