Review Summary: "The stars are beautiful tonight (if you dream about me)."
I must confess: I disliked “All I Could Find Was You”, Dowsing
’s first release. A year or two later, upon hearing that Dowsing had an LP, I reacted with indifference. One glance at the album cover furthered my distaste. A self-deprecating title like “It’s Still Pretty Terrible” didn’t help matters. I know what I’m getting into with an emo album, there’s no need to kick yourself when you’re already down (I’m only half-joking here). I was prepared to hate this album.
Imagine my utter surprise when, against all odds, I actually started to like this album. Unlike their previous EP, which suffered from poor production and a lack of a consistent, committed sound, the production on this LP is excellent, and the singer sings alone and confidently, high in the mix on every track. They ditched the distortion and gang vocals from the EP, and their new sound suits them well. Every track features clean, tidy guitar playing that fits well with the plain though pleasant vocal. Each track doesn’t distinguish itself too much from each other, but it plays into the bands charm.
It also should be noted that Dowsing really excels at balancing an album. They seem to have two, and only two, types of songs: slow burners and quick, poppy romps. Thanks to the impeccable track listing this isn’t a detriment. Instead, the energy flows beautifully from track to track. The album is front loaded with quicker songs. “Get Dead!” is a quality opener, both establishing the motif that runs through the album and ramping up in intensity to transition perfectly into the first few songs. It’s not a complicated song, but it functions well enough.
“Gengar! Gengar! Gengar!” is perhaps the catchiest song on the album, featuring a short, dramatic pause in the action before the band launches into the chorus and the singer delivers an impassioned plea to a lover he has lost. Two burners occupy slots five and six, offering a respite from the earlier, quicker numbers. “Littoral” stands out especially, sounding like a track that would play during a slow motion shot in a TV show where the main character is shown chasing after a vanishing lover, framed against a starry June sky. The track fades and “Midwest Living” offers a respite to the heavy feelings with its hard charging pace.
After another burner, “Terminals” shows the sun breaking through the crowds. “I am no longer afraid to live my life!” exalts the singer, a welcome relief to relative downer of an album, lyrically speaking of course. “Somerset” is a cliché acoustic closer, but redeems itself through earnest lyrics concerning the difficulty of writing an album intended to exorcise the demons of losing someone you care about.
Maybe Dowsing’s sound works better when stretched out over the length of an album. Maybe it’s something in the production. Maybe they just got better at writing songs and hooks. I think it’s all three of these factors. Whatever you chalk it up to, Dowsing has delivered a fine album, one that is worthy of at least a listen or two. Ditch any prejudices you may have and give it a shot.