La Dispute
Somewhere at the Bottom of the River...


3.5
great

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
January 1st, 2011 | 1359 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I fear my relationship with Somewhere At the Bottom... is heading towards the same end as the one Dreyer cites on said album...

... but it’s difficult not to still love La Dispute, even if we’ve grown apart.

La Dispute are divisive. Two listeners hear the same elements they offer so powerfully, yet take them at polarizing stances. Perhaps their only LP symbolizes a divide. Somewhere At the Bottom... is already so combative, intense, so why shouldn’t it be among listeners, also? It’s not like there’s any question of what’s actually going on here, simply a difference in analysis it seems. Somewhere At the Bottom... is blatant and forthright: intricate guitar lines, the river is overflowing with anger and passion, and poetic lyrics about fire and such. Dreyer’s unique vocal duties, the source of just as much praise as they are criticism, are often the fountainhead of disagreement. Screechy and undisciplined, borderline monotonous (especially in the spoken-word sections); but intense and fitting nonetheless, it’s difficult to call them outright bad without mentioning the aura they lend to the music. His vocal chords have drawn comparisons to Aaron Weiss’s, but is that really fair? The feeling that both guys are stretching their abilities to their outermost limits and resorting to flat-out speaking at some points are there; but Weiss gets the nod for having the skill to pull this technique off, where Dreyer comes across as a bit of an impersonator. Still, despite the vocals that grow grating, especially over the prolonged ordeal that is Somewhere At the Bottom Of the River..., there’s draws to La Dispute that are indisputable.

Not many bands can perfect a moment like La Dispute can, fleeting as it may be. The last minute-and-a-half of “Said The King To The River” is entrancing, high-speed and intense, like having the rug pulled out from under your ears. Usually it’s little refrains that accentuate this element. “Breathe in, breathe in, breathe in, BREATHE!” Dreyer screams, displaying that trademark lack of control of his voice... like the words have momentarily escaped his mouth in a way he wasn’t expecting. The band’s LP is ridden with these memorable catch phrases, more recitable than lines from the movie “Anchorman.” This lyrical prowess coupled with their ability to highlight them in an interesting manner is truly the highlight of Somewhere At the Bottom of The River..., and its outstanding saving grace.

Though, it worries me a little that people take La Dispute so seriously sometimes. Don’t get me wrong- the Michiganians’ famed post-hardcore LP certainly harbors angst, anger, and those oh-so-poignant emotions that accompany heart-wrenching breakups. On the other hand, I can’t help but love Somewhere At the Bottom Of the River... for what seems to be a different reason than the one most revel in. Sometimes I want to hear the agony and suffering of Jordan’s Dreyer’s screaming. I even listen diligently at times to hear the deep, metaphorical lines of a relationship that went up in flames. Maybe it’s because my natural disposition is too upbeat and optimistic, but I can’t help but sing along to “Bury Your Flame” every time it comes on with almost inexplicable jubilation- “An unshakable absence / Like most of my insides crawled out of my mouth and went west!” See, where others are bent on detecting torment, it sounds to me more like beautiful dynamism. It’s so easy to lose myself in the maze-like forest of refreshingly experimental arrangements and off-kilter rhythms. The unadulterated passion is blatant, but for those of us that haven’t had the post-breakup, lovelorn desire to burn our exes at the stake, there’s still plenty to love on Somewhere At the Bottom Of the River...

Still, it’s mind-boggling as to what could have possibly made La Dispute want to draw these themes and techniques out three times as far as they’re willing to go. Not unlike Dreyer’s voice being stretched too thin, La Dispute crafted Somewhere far too long, and the strong material can’t support the over-fifty-minute album. It drags the music down, “Like an anchor to her feet,” making what seemed so impressive forty minutes ago seem mundane and trite. Additionally, where the album could have used some extra beef (i.e. the too-short first and last tracks, two of the best), La Dispute decide to go lean.

The fervor surrounding the album --which has garnered a fairly large following since its release-- seems odd considering the nature of the band. They don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, put on a killer live show, and routinely release music for free. Simple enough. Still, they symbolize a divide among today’s today’s post-hardcore fans, perhaps between veterans and newcomers. I find the more post-hardcore I come in contact with, the more glaring La Dispute’s weaknesses --the dying-cat-vocal-technique, the unnecessary length, the reliance on singular moments rather than a more complete solidarity-- to be more outstanding. This aside, for the life of me I can’t help but be impressed by those few staggering guitar lines, those moments where I can’t help but scream alongside Dreyer in his disparate emotional range, or applaud La Dispute for their experimentation well within post-hardcore boundaries. Like Dreyer’s desperate and personal relationship with the subject of his songs, my relationship with Somewhere At The Bottom of The River... has died down considerably over the years. My flame with La Dispute and their fleeting moments of rapture and jubilation, with Dreyer’s start-stop, scream-talk voice on Somewhere At the Bottom... is still burning, even if it’s been partially dowsed over the years by the rainstorms of me recognizing the album’s faults.



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user ratings (1851)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
January 1st 2011


20374 Comments


Not a 5 nor a 2.




Nobody will agree with this.

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SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


16143 Comments


I haven't heard this, so I don't agree nor disagree with you ; )

Digging: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


10594 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

the unnecessary length, the reliance on singular moments rather than a more complete solidarity


Yeah, partly my issue with this album. Superb write up, but as you can see I disagree a bit with the rating. I SHOULD like this so much more than I do, as it has so much here to like.

Digging: Grouper - Ruins

Josh D.
January 1st 2011


13968 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I will get mad.

shade
January 1st 2011


1198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think you are completely wrong.


that being said, this is an excellent review. pos.

FourSquare20
January 1st 2011


320 Comments


I'm not quite sure what I would rate this. It is a little on the long side, but I don't have a problem with the guy's vocals like a bunch of other people do.

FourSquare20
January 1st 2011


320 Comments


Either way, this is a good review. pos.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I SWEAR IF YOU TOUCHED HER OH HEAVEN FORBID THE THINGS I WOULD DO TO YOU

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

TheStefan
January 1st 2011


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i agree with you for the most part.

however, this album has not lost its luster for me, and i've listened to it about 30 times all the way through. perhaps one day i will fully understand where you are coming from.

anywhozer. good review

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i can totally see how someone would love this album and then hate it. ive never done either

Oceans
January 1st 2011


934 Comments


I decided to listen to a song from this a few weeks ago out of curiosity. Probably should have given it more of a chance but god damn I hated those vocals

SeaAnemone
January 1st 2011


20374 Comments


thanks guys... and yeah it was a bit odd writing this but there seems to be an odd amount of excitement/discussion around this lately so I couldn't resist... even though it obviously didn't need it haha. oh well, I've been at a loss as to what to write about lately.

North0House
January 1st 2011


1764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review... I must agree, however.
Though I love this album, it's novelty somehow wears off a bit as time rolls on. Either way, this will always be one of my mot loved albums, simply because of its somewhat unorthodox nature and profound lyrics.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm enjoying this review so far, but please:

"Listening to the vocal style exhibited here some have questioned the guy’s sexuality, like Weiss’s.
Placed next to each other in a lineup though, the mewithoutYou frontman is merely bi while Dreyer
would be the flamboyant Pride Parade leader."

kill it with fire

also

"there’s draws"

there are*

Yazz_Flute
January 1st 2011


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Couldn't you have just said "poetic lyrics" instead of "poetical lyrics?" That just sounds off to me. I really enjoyed and
agreed with most of the review though. I need more time for this to sit though, it was one of my christmas albums.

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SeaAnemone
January 1st 2011


20374 Comments


lol "poetical" sounds pretty dumb, nice catch

and yeah I had this at a 4 and in the course of writing this switched it to a 3.5

Kris.
January 1st 2011


12345 Comments


ugh

Yazz_Flute
January 1st 2011


18787 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ughkris

Kris.
January 1st 2011


12345 Comments


jazz flute

SeaAnemone
January 1st 2011


20374 Comments


break it up break it up



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