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Dipsomaniacs | Freakin' Eureka (Face Down)
Three albums in, New Jersey's Dipsomaniacs seem to have arrived at something of a crossroads. Deliberately or not, having notionally divided their latest album, 'Freakin' Eureka' into Sides One & Two - I say notionally as the album is only available on CD - there's a discernible difference between the sides. On 'Side One' they've dispensed with the more ambitious arrangements and production utilised on previous album 'This Life You're Faking' in favour of a more back to basics approach. You can't knock the band's energy or commitment, but despite the adrenalin the songs are found wanting in the tunes department. They're enjoyable enough at the time but just don't make a lasting impression.
Mick Chorba, the band's songwriter and frontman as well as proprietor of their label, Face Down Records, is also a huge Replacements fan - a few years back he assembled and contributed to a very good tribute to the band - 'Left Of The Dial: A Pop Tribute To The Replacements' and I don't think he'd consider it unfair to suggest that the Dipsomaniacs have been greatly inspired by them. Which brings us to 'Side Two', a big leap forward for the band which finds them dispensing with the loveable, sloppy, sometimes throwaway rockers so beloved of their heroes' early years, instead integrating the influence of the Replacements later, more mature work and with some success. Sure, there's still a casual and fun undercurrent to be found, most obviously in songs like Prince Harry but there's a greater maturity at play too, made evident by the pleasing and unexpected integration of some occasional country rock influences (Sleepy Joe, Always Forgetting Something) into their lively guitar pop template.
A solid though unremarkable first half then finds the Dipsomaniacs pulling off an unexpected second half resurgence after the interval with some impressive set pieces. Away win!

Geraint Jones
March-April 2004