Album Review: Dowsing – I Don’t Even Care Anymore


One of the nicest things to see in alternative music at the minute is the current popularity of emo. Punk’s introspective little brother has had some negative connotations attached to it for the last few years, thanks to the slew of mid-2000s bands that ever so vaguely resembled their stylistic ancestors but added a coat of slick production and melodrama to make it ‘marketable’ – My Chemical Romance being the most famous example. Since then, people heard the name and associated what should bring to mind Cap’n Jazz, The Promise Ring or Jawbreaker with teenagers sketching blacked-out hearts on their note-books. Oh well, no harm done in the long run, as in recent years more and more bands have been popping up with a DIY ethic and a more indie-punk sound that resembles the old-school emo sound much more closely.

Dowsing are one of the more popular bands to come out of this recent emo resurgence and fit right into the affectionately nicknamed category of ‘cyls-mo’ (cyls standing for Count Your Lucky Stars Records) along with label-mates Annabel and Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate, among others, who share a more clean strummed, indie-leaning take on emo. ‘I Don’t Even Care Anymore’ is the Chicago band’s second full length album after last year’s ‘It’s Still Pretty Terrible’. Fans will instantly recognise the style on this album but while keeping closely to what the band does best, there is enough to keep it interesting and to make for a worthwhile listen.

On the whole the album is Dowsing through and through, but this is especially true for the first few tracks. These songs would quite happily fit on any of the band’s other releases but I didn’t find myself tired of the consistency, mainly because these songs are as well written as before, if not better. The first half of the album features the same musical ideas throughout: solid mid-paced drumming, simple jangly guitar chords, a subtle spattering of cute-sounding keyboard and vocals that sit somewhere between in tune and out of tune but work thanks to Eric Czaja’s sad charm in his performance. The most significant difference between these tracks and their predecessors is that they sound considerably bigger, which is probably due in no small part to an improved quality of production. Though despite the strict stylistic consistency, it’s satisfying to hear the signs of a more thoughtful approach to arrangement and structure, as well as some more adventurous bass work in particular.

The second half of the 10 track LP is a little different by Dowsing’s standards but not so much that it is out of touch with the first. ‘Everything Works Out’ begins with a solemn introduction comprised of piano chords and echoing acoustic guitar, followed by vocals equally as reverberating, produced to sound distant in the mix. While the band have forayed into slow songs before, they have usually been as bright sounding as the more upbeat tracks so this was refreshing to hear. From then on, the album continues in a similar vein, with slow songs (both electric and acoustic) packing out the later tracklist until closer ‘Nothing To Give’ picks up the pace a little bit and features one of the catchiest lines of the album, being the repeated gang chant of “nothing’s been the same”. Normally, and especially of late, gang vocals can come off as a little hackneyed but in this sparing use they work. However, some of the tracks towards the end of the album could have benefitted from being placed more towards the beginning, so as to disrupt the noticeable separation of pace from the first to the second half – or to rephrase that: it shouldn’t really be so easy to split an album into neat halves, it runs the risk of encouraging the listener to ignore one or the other.

As a whole album, ‘I Don’t Even Care Anymore’ certainly delivers. It has everything you would want and expect from an indie rock/emo crossover band, with added songwriting prowess. Lyrically, the album isn’t as catchy as some of the band’s most famous songs but it makes up for that with strong arrangements that sound bigger and better, both from an instrumental and production perspective. The inclusion of more atmospheric acoustic guitar and piano very much helps to keep the album from becoming too derivative of the previous releases, but while this works now, a greater creative leap may be needed in the future to keep the band’s sound from becoming stale. For now, however, the “feel good sad jams” still go down a treat without any doubt.


>‘I Don’t Even Care Anymore’ by Dowsing is out now on Count Your Lucky Stars Records.

Dowsing links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Ben Kosma (@BenKosma)


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