Published Apr 27, 2016On their third full-length album, and almost three years since their last, Dowsing have kicked things up a notch. The Chicago outfit's latest effort — technically untitled, but going by the name OKAY — finds the band diverging from the more-or-less signature style of the so-called "emo revival" and into punk-driven territory that still sounds very much like Dowsing, but also like much else in the genre.
OKAY is more of a pop-punk album in the vein of Joyce Manor or Spraynard than their emo-pop roots, which planted them somewhere between Pavement and the Promise Ring. They've eschewed some of their dorky, leisurely charm for more drive and velocity, and singer Erik Hunter Czaja's voice is more biting and emboldened, delivering lyrics with less sappiness and more desperate conviction.
"Wasted on Hate" bursts into radio-punk riffing and folds into fantastic choruses — "They built you up just to tear you down / They divided us," Czaja belts — to open the album, while the pounding choruses and withdrawn interludes of "Feeling Better" showcase the band's dynamics. Other highlights include "Born to Soar," which builds to its anthemic ending stanza, and "Red Legs Kicking," an aggressively melancholy song that channels late '90s emo staples like Texas Is the Reason and Mineral.
There are perhaps too many drawbacks here, though. Throughout, Dowsing work quickly — several songs on OKAY are less than two minutes long, and only two break the four-minute mark — which can leave you wanting more, for better or for worse, and the album casts aside much of the shy smallness that used to all but define Dowsing, which may also be missed.
OKAY has much of the same feeling and melody that was their backbone, making it feel like their younger selves' bigger brother. All in all, it's a little more than just okay. (Asian Man)