Dikembe - Hail Something (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dikembe

Hail Something (2016)

death protector


Mediumship (2014) was a bit of a letdown for me. I've always loved Dikembe's upbeat and energetic blend of indie/emo/punk but this shift in sound lacked a lot of life and felt so restrained. The Ledge EP a year later had me rethinking and I realized I was a bit harsh. Nonetheless, I still felt like Dikembe knew where they wanted to go but were struggling to find the right vehicle. They felt unsure. Hail Something, flaws aside, plays out like they finally mapped how to make this transition. With their new sound in tow, it's apparent that, as experienced as they are, Dikembe are still a work-in-progress. Ultimately, minor gripes aside, the record ends in a decent-enough place.

You'd usually hear about Dikembe being one of the frontrunners of the Gainesville music scene. Other times, they'd be lumped in with other 'emo-revivalists'. Dowsing, Annabel and Donor are a few that come to mind. This time around, they sharpen up the '90s texture they're pressing forth with and mostly focusing on a more jagged, aggressive sound. "Earth Around Me" and "Awful Machine" are best indicative of this. They've lessened down on their poppy presence and lean more towards the style of Basement, Sainthood Reps, Citizen and Balance and Composure. The themes they touch on are very familiar to their fans -- relationships, life on the road and of course, mental health (as heard on "Fix"). A few songs are for those trying the bridge the gap in what's now two eras of Dikembe. "Shelf" brings back the emo notes of old -- fit for fans of Sorority Noise. A few of the other songs are quite forgettable though and lack urgency. They remind me of the parts I disliked off Mediumship. Dragging and wondering if they should shoegaze it. The album recovers though and by the time they offer their sludgy, grungy closer in "Eat" (which feels like homage to the Pixies), it's quite apparent that Dikembe are no longer holding on to the past. It'll feel familiar in bits and pieces but the record's about the inevitable. Letting go.