I’ll be honest: I’ve been sleeping on Dikembe for a long time. I’m not exactly sure what’s driven me to all but ignore the Gainesville, FL quartet since I first heard of them and the praise they were receiving from pretty much everyone a little over a year ago, but, as it turned out, their newest release Mediumship marked the first time I have ever listened to them.
I’m not sure what I expected. I can’t really talk about the direction these guys are headed with their sound or what improvements have been made over their previous work – however, I can say that when their album is looked at as a stand-alone collection of songs, it can hold its own against the competition.
But what is the competition? Who can Dikembe consider its peers in this age of high-profile indie punk we’re currently living in? Lots of the publicity and media coverage the band receives labels them as “emo”, and while their music certainly has no shortage of heavy emotional content, they don’t exactly fit in with the “twinkle daddies” scene (or is that even a thing anymore?). No, Dikembe can be described as “emo” in the smoother-sounding, more mature sense of the word, landing somewhere in between the sound of classic Brand New records and that of newer, poppier acts like You Blew It!. And, in a world where more and more bands are afraid to just do their own thing, it’s refreshing to listen to.
However, when talking about Mediumship as a complete package, to use the word “refreshing” may be a bit of a stretch. The record, especially its latter half, tends to get repetitive song structure-wise. Even when paying attention to each track very closely, it’s sort of hard to differentiate between how different tracks sound. After a few listens of the album, trying to establish separate, divisive identities for each song in one’s head is no easy task. It’s not that the songs aren’t well thought-out, but I couldn’t help but wish that they’d speed up the tempo, or use a distinctive chord progression, or…something. Aside from the more popular tracks on the record (the standout “Gets Harder” being the best example), it can get boring at times.
At the end of the day, though, Dikembe is still a pretty young band with a lot of time and room to grow. Their hearts are in the right place, and if the growing buzz surrounding the group is any indication, they’re not about to fade into the background anytime soon. In my opinion, if they explore some currently uncharted territory with their songwriting on their next record, and are consistent with their lyrical content and sound, then these dudes just might strike a punk rock gold mine.