Halfway through its first track—a bobbing, bittersweet number called “Even Bother”—it might seem safe to assume that Dikembe’s sophomore record, Mediumship, is more interested in melody than mood. Absent are the scrunchy chords and rhythmic temper-tantrums that made Broad Shoulders, the Gainesville band’s first full-length, so mesmerizing. In their stead, Mediumship favors dynamics and depth and space to explore. Songs like “Mad Frustrated” feature the sorts of twisted guitar leads that worm into one’s subconsciousness. On topsy-turvy tracks like “Pelican Fly,” the guitars totter against a snapping, spurring drumbeat; here, singer Steven Gray’s voice seems softer, but much more versatile and stirring than on previous recordings. These songs haunt, to say the least, maybe because the band has nudged melody further to the forefront.
It’s only during subsequent listens that one realizes how moody Dikembe’s melodies actually are—that the band is unsatisfied with this either/or. It manifests in the swaying sparkle of “Hood Rat Messiah,” which bursts into a smoldering chorus, and in Gray’s screech during the stormy, swirling chorus of “Las Vegas Weather.” On “Snakes in my Path,” though, it comes from feedback that rises like a sunset haze, chords that drone like a tree of cicadas—the sounds that swell behind the melody—at which point it becomes clear that the band is no less noisy than on their preceding releases, just more strategic. Then, of course, songs like “Donuts in a Six Speed” spin the listener with its scrunchy chords and rhythmic temper-tantrums, revealing Dikembe as band that has mastered their sound and Mediumship shows them flexing their musical muscles.
- Dane Erbach
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