Dowsing are angry; not a “you stole my socks and you didn’t share that packet of Skittles” angry, but a “you rinsed the flat while I was out at work and now you’re talking shit about me on the Internet – and where’s my dog?” angry. And, for a band that’s written optimistic songs about going to Winnipeg and meeting The Weakerthans’ John K Samson, it’s a shock.
“Punk is dead, and all your friends will be soon,” the Chicagoan heroes bark on opener ‘Wasted On Hate’ – the irony being it’s the most punk Dowsing have ever sounded. It’s a strong opening, but it’s the vitriol with which the line is delivered that really grabs the attention. And it’s a similar story throughout ‘Okay’ (or ‘Untitled’ – Dowsing’s third full-length doesn’t really have a “proper” title).
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With that in mind, you might think ‘Okay’ was some lamentable mope-fest, with Dowsing bemoaning the scene, Chicago, critics and the list is endless. They even have the temerity to say “No-one likes us anymore” on ‘Finally Ghost’. It’s a lyric dripping with irony, characterised by chants of “almost good” made through stifled laughs at the end of the song. Dowsing may be angry, but they still possess that engaging, knock-about charm that makes them both likeable (despite their protestations) and far better than just ‘good’.
Dowsing were one of the bands that pulled me back into the emo scene (did someone say ‘revival’…) and 2013’s ‘I Don’t Even Care Anymore’ in particular is a hugely enjoyable record, filled with wry, self-effacing humour and moments of heartfelt insight. ‘Okay’ builds on this in just about every way. It’s way more accessible, it’s certainly more cynical, yet it’s also unbelievably honest. And the hooks; ‘Okay’ has more hooks than a fancy dress shop in the run-up to National Speak Like A Pirate Day. Indeed, cuts like ‘Dissolve’, ‘Born to Soar’ and ‘Kept Me Around’ are so immediate and rewarding, the progression displayed by Dowsing is dizzying and dazzling.
With new records from Into It Over It and The Hotelier, combined with the critical success of recent efforts by Foxing and The World Is A Beautiful Place, it feels like the emo revival has come of age. Dowsing are another to deliver a career defining moment with ‘Okay’, and while it may lack the expansive progression of their peers, it’s the best the group has ever sounded. So yeah, I’m not sorry, Dowsing – you’re still great.
’Okay’ by Dowsing is released on April 29 on Asian Man Records and Dog Knights Productions.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)