REVIEW: La Dispute – “Wildlife”

La Dispute / Wildlife / No Sleep Records

On Wildlife, La Dispute prove sincerity can defeat anything. Extracted from garages in Grand Rapids and the idea of being a collection of unpublished short stories from a hypothetical author, this second full-length finds the melodic hardcore five-piece screaming with sympathy, remorse and distress to mold pieces of work that move faster than a pack of wolves caught onto the scent of blood and hit harder than a caliber bullet to the chest. A year and a half has given them an eloquent touch. While their sound still bares this rabid intensity – crazed breakdowns and riffs and Jordan Dreyer’s vocal recounts that bring lines like “Softly sings to you of fireworks and God and art and sex” to life (“Harder Harmonies”) – it’s darker and unexpectedly warmer. It’s caught between two worlds: the art of musical expression and the tattered conscience of a twenty-something that sings ever so sweetly. Being trapped in that state has made La Dispute more confident than ever on Wildlife. Each track is triggered by a rhythmic heartbeat that closes with an unexpected drop that makes the listener stagger, holding onto silence for just a few seconds.

This in no way indicates the band are confined and intent on being theatrical; the tormented progressive rock outburst “A Poem” and lighter shot “A Broken Jar” use spoken word and alternative folk melodies to spark melodramatic feelings we often rage with or bottle up. “St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues” is a groovy jaunt accented by the rush of Dreyer’s voice, “I See Everything” is a tip of the hat to At The Drive-In and “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit” explores the sensual impulsive connection we tend to make before it ruptures “when the feeling hits”. Seized individually, each of the 14 songs on Wildlife are sturdy musical contraptions. Dreyer is an ingenious vocalist, but Chad Sterenburg, Kevin Whittemore and Adam Vass have outdone themselves, adding more character to blistering punk screams (“Edit Your Hometown”) and delicate fingerpicked work and ripping chords that add bit of rich despair to when the author questions his actions (“King Park”). La Dispute are moving to a stage where their execution is incomparable and natural. But as Wildlife narrates, this is isn’t an extravagant composition; it’s instead a personal look at growing up. And with confidence, this is only the beginning.

Download: “King Park”, “Edit Your Hometown”, “Safer In The Forest…”

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