Broad Shoulders

Written by: DR on 14/02/2013 01:23:06

It feels like there were more releases in the reviving emo scene than we could hope to cover or keep up with in 2012. However, one album from last year that I feel deserves a review is Dikembe's impressive debut LP "Broad Shoulders", which is much less twinkly than many of its scenemates' releases and much more punk orientated.

"Broad Shoulders" combines the rough around the edges punk of bands like Hot Water Music and The Promise Ring with the intricate noodling of American Football to good effect. Little or no thought has gone into choruses or unnecessary vocal passages, ultimately leading to songs that show great energy, catharsis and hooks. The song run-times are predominantly made short and to the point, often featuring peak moments of aggression centred around delicate, ambient instrumentation.

The album peaks early, though, largely down to how Dikembe's sound sounds so fresh at the start of the record. The gorgeous ambient opener "Nothing. Stuff." seeps seamlessly into the flawlessly paced "Apology Not Fucking Accepted", which switches between excitable punk rhythms and melodic musicianship, built around its great hook "I'm so mad I can't fucking see straight!". The jagged rhythms of "I Watch A Lot of Jackie Chan Movies" are as infectious as any of the hooks on the album, while the call/response in "We Could Become River Rats" features some of their most emotive vocal-work on the entire record.

However, the second half of the record passes by without really demanding your attention like the excellent first half. It's not that the quality nosedives as much as it drops from being really good to really decent, unfortunately causing many of the songs in the second half to lack a strong identity. Though the hooks aren't as infectious, the main problem is that there isn't enough space between songs, making it feel congested, as though there is little room to breathe. While such energy, in theory, isn't a negative thing, here it makes the listener feel slightly stifled. Even a song as great as the slow-burning "Not Today, Angel" gets smothered and doesn't really have room to affect between the vigorous punk efforts "I Just Don't Understand What All These Kids Dig About Him" and "Librarians Kill For That Kind of Quiet".

Closing song "Sorry I Can't Stick Around" clocks in at seven minutes, compared to the usual two/three minutes, and is a lot more spacious and measured than the rest of the record. It's a prime example of how good their songs can be when do they allow more space into their music, because what is essentially a 'jam out' becomes one of the most immersive moments of the entire album.

Overall, "Broad Shoulders" is a promising debut. It combines different shades of emo effectively enough to sound fresh for the first half of the record. And, despite the undeniably solid second half lacking the memorability of the fantastic first-half, it's still a good listen, especially for any fan of the current emo scene.

Download: Nothing. Stuff., Apology Not Fucking Accepted, Sorry I Can't Stick Around
For The Fans of: Dads, Algernon Cadwallader, Wavelets, Snowing
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 14.08.2012
Tiny Engines

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