Published Aug 05, 2014Today they're regarded as innovators, but most of emo's second-wave hated the term and did their best to distance themselves from it. This usually manifested itself in "difficult" records that eschewed genre tropes and, in most cases, alienated fans. Few bands survived long enough to right the ship.
Gainesville, FL crew Dikembe are yet another in an-ever growing line of "emo revival" bands mining this specific era for inspiration. The four-piece previously injected a healthy dose of sarcasm into their music, but on sophomore full-length Mediumship they ditch elements of their previous sound in a bid for Serious Rock Record status.
The album marries Brand New's sonic dissonance with Jeremy Enigk's lyrical obtuseness. The shift isn't as jarring as it sounds; post-hardcore was always a prominent weapon in Dikembe's sonic arsenal. But by abandoning more direct lyrics and the pop-friendly guitar crunch of previous efforts, they lay bare the gaps in songwriting that are at the crux of Mediumship's problems.
The record's opening three-song volley makes a strong case for the change in tone, but as the songs unravel, the band can't maintain the energy across the album's ten tracks. That's not to say Mediumship is a bad album, it's just that expectations for it were incredibly high and they are met only as often as they're dashed.
Like their '90s counterparts, Dikembe struggle with how to progress without losing themselves in the process. Though imperfect, Mediumship makes it over this hurdle while offering a way forward. (Tiny Engines)