With ‘Footsteps At The Pond’, La Dispute gear up harder for their new album, ‘Panorama’.
A month after releasing their sublime, third-eye-opening dual-single, the engrossing ‘Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I’, La Dispute are back with another new tune. Whereas ‘Rose Quartz‘ and ‘Fulton Street I‘, as a complete piece, was carefully built around light synths, unsettling car crash imagery, slowly rising dynamics, and atmospheric guitar figures, ‘Footsteps At The Pond‘ is more on-rails. It’s a much riffier, rhythmically driven rock number than it’s sibling track. Wth an energized spring in its step, it careens around at its own chaotic pace; always sharing La Dispute’s high-care for emotionally delicate lyricism, great melodies, memorable riffs, and killer songwriting cues.
That aforementioned previous song was about long road trips that vocalist Jordan Dreyer would make across Michigan; how these sights and stories reflected his own views of love, his anxiety around losing people, and his relationship dynamic with his partner. Here, ‘Footsteps…‘ is a gloomier piece centred around failure, flaws, waywardness and of being saved by those closest to us. As the band themselves stated upon its release, this is a story about “…reckoning with flaws, about letting the best people down, about nearly drowning but for them.”
Jesus Christ, I feel personally attacked right now.
Anyway, this idea of recluding into ourselves because of our failures is seen across the lyrical board. Namely with emotionally turbulent lines like “Come and shake me from my sleep” and “Don’t get why you believed in me so much to follow and retrieve it all“. It’s about knowing that you’re loved, even when at your weariest and lowest, but never being able to fully grasp why others make such an effort. The song speaks to an inner battle regarding the nature of self-worth and Imposter Syndrome, where you feel like you don’t really deserve the love, happiness and success in your life.
We see this theme realized with the song’s gorgeous animated music video, directed by Daisy Fernandez and animated by Timothy Kaufmann. In it, our heroine enters a cave after hearing a bell being run, as if in distress. After making her way down through its bowels and through a shifting maze, she discovers her charge: a minotaur, whom she brings back to the surface. This narrative actually twists around the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Except there aren’t any human sacrifices, there are no gods or kings, and we see multiple threads used as path findings tools in the maze (colour coded to the band’s new LP’s artwork), as opposed to the original myth’s single thread used by Theseus. Implying this wasn’t the first time the bull had become so lost, figuratively and literally speaking.
The metaphor is that the bull was the one who rang the bell as an SOS, with our hero promptly diving into those dark depths to bring them home. The creature was trapped under its own pressure, but it still yearned for a way out. And our hero was just biding their time, as if they were waiting to be called on to save a friend once again. The inclusion of the maze hints that it’s perhaps not the same issue(s) that leads to this mental and emotional seclusion occurring. And come the video’s end and the song’s uplifting climax, we see how almost reluctant the bull is to have that kindness offered. As it’s seen sheepishly dragging its feet behind our protagonist as they escape during multiple scenes; like it’s looking back at the depressive rut it romanticized whilst in that sinking state. But now it has to face facts, swallow pride, and accept a helping hand from those who care. Because without those helping hands burning up these “bad dreams”, maybe we’ll all drown.
This song’s entire theme is one that I relate extremely hard with. As there’ve been countless times in my life where I’ve lost my way and found myself stuck at the cold, hard bottom of a self-dug hole. Only for loving friends and family to throw down an escape rope of sorts – whether via phone call, text message, a hug, or any other kind of generous interaction – to help pull me back up into the light. And I’m forever thankful for that kind of love. You all know who you are. In the case of this new La Dispute track, the general takeaway is allowing loved ones to help us. That no matter how hard we fuck up, they’ll still follow our snowy footprints down to the proverbial pond and pull us out of that icy-cold water. It’s a beautiful sentiment, really.
While I don’t think ‘Footsteps…‘ will quite become one of my favourite La Dispute tracks, there’s not much I’d change about it – it’s well-done. Well, other than Jordan’s vocals being a little too low in the mix, with the drums and guitars overpowering his parts. But that does have the inverse effect of further drawing you into the song’s universe, trying your best to grapple with what’s being expressed. So, I can live with that at least.
Thaw yourself out and come back up for air with ‘Footsteps At The Pond‘ below: