Vancouver is the debut EP of La Dispute, a five-piece post-hardcore band from Michigan. They are currently signed to No Sleep Records, and have released a follow-up, “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair.”
La Dispute’s sound is often compared to mewithoutYou, mainly because of the similarities between Aaron Weiss and La Dispute vocalist Jordan Dreyer. While this comparison is often justified, Dreyer should be graded objectively and not against Weiss. Dreyer is a more than competent singer and screamer, switching between the two quite well, as he does in the bridge of "To Withstand the Force of Storms." His voice simply drips with emotion. "Fairmount" is the standout vocal track, as Dreyer screams, “I made you a bed of thorns for every rose you ever left outside my door, that’s all you every left me.”
As far as instrumentation goes, La Dispute is very solid. The guitar work, while occasionally sticking to the standard post-hardcore formula of octaves and syncopated chords, is almost always unique and interesting. Frantic is the best word to describe the lead guitar, as displayed at the beginning of "A Word of Welcome and Warning." It would not be unfair to list At the Drive-In as an influence on the guitar. Adam Vass, the bass player, is very talented and creative; however, he usually takes a back seat to guitar. His talents are fully displayed on their LP: “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair.” The album closer, "Untitled," is an interesting yet short song, clocking in under two minutes. It consists of a repeated piano line and Dreyer screaming in the background.
Vancouver has only a few weaknesses. The first is the first minutes of "He is Here, He Is Not Afraid." While the instrumental section is not altogether boring, Dreyer’s voice and lyrics is the strongest asset of La Dispute. Also, the softer moments that contrast the screams are much few and far between. The volume and mood shifts seen in "The Surgeon and the Scientist" are one of the best parts of the band.
Vancouver is an excellent debut from a band that has incredible potential. While their following album is better, Vancouver is worth listening to if you enjoy “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River…” or any solid post-hardcore.
The Surgeon and the Scientist