"Meant To Shred"
August 13, 2013 - Count Your Lucky Stars
Dowsing might have been doomed to the lower depths of the annals chronicling modern Midwestern emo revival based on their ultra-scrappy demos, splits and their barely year-old LP debut, It's Still Pretty Terrible (a self-deprecating title only the band's harshest critics could really concur with). But the Chicago quintet tighten the bolts and show greater promise on I Don't Even Care Anymore, honing in on better forward movement, stronger hooks, the power of delicate, twinkly buildups when applied sparsely and the greater immersion that can occur when the slightest trace of deliberation is shown.
The band lighten up on the Mineral worship that was so prevalent on much of their back catalog, favoring a fuller-sounding, mid-paced jangle that imagines the Promise Ring finding their footing between 30° Everywhere and Nothing Feels Good. Vocally, frontman Erik Hunter Czaja continues to remind one of Osker's Devon Williams without the throat-searing desperation and gripping catharsis, if just in recording tone and raw delivery alone. Even so, Czaja comes off refreshingly unfiltered, even if that results in some unnaturally juvenile or dour lines he scatters about the second half of I Don't Even Care Anymore, staying true to the record's name to an unfortunate fault ("I can't remember the last good thing that happened to me"; "I would have built a city for you/If we hadn't run out of time"; the possibly "Misery Business"-alluding "I've got 20 things to do/None of them involving you").
While the band's influences might be most transparent on "Meant To Shred," it finds the band operating at top speed. A heartbreaking two minutes with a bubbly, gangly refrain, it's a hopeful forecast of where the band should head in the future, and when it transitions into the bittersweet brightness of the title track and the interlude-ish "Everything Works Out" (with graceful piano reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World's "Ten"), it sounds like they're really hitting a momentary stride in the middle of the album. A comparative lull follows, but a driving riff and restrained sadness clouding closer "Nothing To Give" help end things strongly.
It's easy to trace Dowsing's overall growth from even just It's Still Pretty Terrible to here. They've evolved into something that would stand out well on an emo mixtape, and whether or not their album's titles continue to reflect their feelings on that trajectory, I Don't Even Care Anymore shows the potential to far surpass that status.