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Album Review: La Dispute - 'Wildlife'

27 October 2011 | 11:11 am | Staff Writer

A bigger step in maturity than was probably expected.

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When listening to a La Dispute record, you can’t help but feel that you are within a brutally honest, artistic space. The band has the ability to capture their creations in a raw and unashamed way, whilst creating their own path and being sure not to conform to any rules or regulations.

Most of this is due to frontman Jorden Dreyer’s vocal style which is more like intense poetry than melodic singing. On the group’s second full length album ‘Wildlife,’ the artistic ambition is pushed even further creating a concept album that sets the bar at a new height for post-hardcore releases.

Lyrically the record is based around an author writing about the various dramas and confusions experienced whilst growing up. Each song is like a short story, sectioned thematically by four monologues, during which the author confuses his own real life experiences, in turn blurring the lines between his writing and his reality.

Dreyer can often be the make or break point for people deciding if they like La Dispute, as his vocal style isn’t exactly easy to digest. You need to have a certain amount of respect for a man who is simply just doing what he does with as much passion offered here, but it is important not to let this overshadow the rest of the band, who musically are offering some of the finest performances in the post-hardcore world today. The tussle between vocalist and band is a lot less of an issue on ‘Wildlife’ as compared to the group’s debut ‘Somewhere At the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair.’

The album has a brilliant flow, possibly due to the fact of the pre-determined theme, the narrative, which really is the glue that holds the album together and becomes the main focus for both the band and the listener. The production on this record has helped greatly to achieve this cohesion, it is noticeable straight away on the opening tracks a Departure and Harder Harmonies. Whilst both tracks are filled with intensity, it is the subtle production tricks and nuances, especially the wind chimes in the opener, that tell you the band have really stepped their game up on this release.

Musically the group are masters of unique chord progressions and off kilter song structures, especially in tracks like St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues and a Letter, but the record highlight is unquestionably King Park, the ultimate portrayal of what these guys are capable of. Whilst the sounds used in the songs are never really “heavy,” it is the aggression and passion in the playing that make these tracks so powerful.

‘Wildlife’ is a huge step up in maturity from the band’s debut. The ideas used, both lyrically and musically, have come from a group completely focused on originality and constant progression. If you manage to be able to swallow the pill that is La Dispute, you are in for one hell of a trip.

1. a Departure
2. Harder Harmonies
3. St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues
4. Edit Your Hometown
5. a Letter
6. Safer in the Forest/Love Song for Poor Michigan
7. The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
8. a Poem
9. King Park
10. Edward Benz, 27 Times
11. I See Everything
12. a Broken Jar
13. all our bruised bodies and the whole heart shrinks
14. You and I in Unison