La Dispute
Wildlife


4.0
excellent

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
September 25th, 2011 | 2162 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: La Dispute are still screaming your name - in unison this time.

Since I've grown up, I have never once yearned for my childhood. No matter what problems adult life has placed in my path, they only serve to affirm that I no longer have to deal with learning lessons and being punished and blundering into awkward situations just because I don't know any better. Paying bills may suck but it also means that I'm my own person, that I have responsibilities that keep me grounded. When I think back to my childhood, I'm just glad that I'm not there anymore. And I'm especially glad that for the most part, those times exist in nobody's memory but my own. Those pages of my story have long since been left behind, never to be revisited. But sometimes I wonder: Who out there remembers a few of those humiliating moments from my childhood? And however irrational it may be, I am always deeply embarrassed at the thought.

I'd imagine it's much the same for bands who got their start during their late teens and early twenties, only much worse. Adolescent yearnings, awkward poetry, painful memories: all these and more have been documented and distributed to thousands of people. But unlike my own memories of adolescence that fade more every day, there will always be someone out there still listening to the oldest items in a band's catalog, there will always be people who come to concerts and shout requests for songs that were written years ago during a completely different time in the writer's life. So if a young band wants to record an album, they'd better be damn sure that it won't embarrass them a few years down the line.

Still though, I suppose there's something to be said for a band refusing to tone down their honesty, no matter how off-putting it may be, and in general, I don't think that La Dispute have much to be embarrassed about. However, for every La Dispute fan who found solace in Jordan Dreyer's overbearing vocals and big-heart-on-a-very-small-sleeve lyrics, there were others who simply couldn't take them seriously. And there were yet others, like myself, who fell somewhere in the middle – not enamored but not disgusted either. There was potential in Somewhere At The Bottom..., even if that potential was squandered at every turn by a vocalist who had a hard time shutting the fuck up and letting the band do what they do best. For all the praise La Dispute fans heap on Dreyer, the musicians are really the ones holding this band together, and they were what kept me listening in the times where I'd almost had enough of lyrics containing the word “darling.”

On Wildlife though, Dreyer and the band have learned how to work together and complement each other, a progression that started with the latest in the Here, Hear series, and their skill is now readily apparent after being hampered for so long. The only song that showed this kind of maturity on Somewhere... was “The Last Lost Continent,” the penultimate twelve-minute long track. Ill-advised as it may have seemed, the song was the crowning achievement of the album. Dreyer's contributions were made stronger for their relative scarcity; his words and voice held more power after the musicians were allowed to lock into a groove without him wailing over them. It's probably the one song they look back at fondly, considering that they brought those same ideas to the studio to record this album. The music is as groove-oriented as ever, and Dreyer no longer steals the spotlight every chance he gets. Don't be fooled by the wind chimes in opener “A Departure”; along with “Harder Harmonies,” it shows just how literal its title is, aided in part by the production, which blends all the elements together and makes the album seem much more cohesive than Somewhere... did, where individual components were highlighted to the point that the album seemed like a collection of shouts and cool guitar parts rather than songs. “A Departure” brings more attitude to the table than all of their former releases combined, and if you listen closely to the track's end, you can hear the wind chimes fall to the ground as if the string holding them up was cut.

Wildlife, more than anything, should be a wake-up call for post-hardcore bands. There are big ideas here, as there have always been in La Dispute's music, but the difference is that this time, most of them stick. Instead of the ridiculous lyrical wheelhouse of songs like “Said The King To The River,” Wildlife is much more akin to “Eleven” from Here, Hear III – lyrics that speak not of the heartbreak of teen years but of the heartbreak that comes from seeing your home state fall apart. Dreyer's lyrics are still always rooted firmly in the personal, but it's not just his paltry experiences that he's describing. He's branched out admirably, attempting to expand the social commentary of “Eleven.” It makes it less ridiculous when he does venture into old territory, like on “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit,” a song that has lyrics that are somewhat awkward but are off-set by the other songs on the album. Instead of being just another song about lost love on a record full of such songs, it is heartbreaking and honest, a thoughtful look back instead of a real-time journal entry. Or maybe it's just that as a band, La Dispute are so amazingly in sync on this record. The chord progressions in “A Poem,” “Edward Benz, 27 Times,” “St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues,” and “King Park” are all amazing and wonderfully unique for this type of music. The music is so much more expressive than it was before, managing to say almost as much as Dreyer does with his words.

I see now that by the time Somewhere... was released, La Dispute were most likely already moving on from that record and those songs. I think they realized how green they sounded, how easily their youth and energy and desire to touch people could be misconstrued when delivered in a manner so raw and open. There was no subtlety, no tact; put simply, they were a band who didn't know any better, blundering forward the only way they knew how and not realizing that it might be the wrong one. Wildlife is a torch held to a sepia-toned picture of chimes hanging from a deck on a breezy day, a fresh start from a band whose wide eyes are no longer a sign of immaturity but of growing up, of seeing the world for what it really is – not an immutable collection of young love and heartbreak, but a landscape that can be torn wide open and changed through music.



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user ratings (1426)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Joe Denby (4)
La Dispute: More cohesive, more infectious....

Dan H. CONTRIBUTOR (3)
Amidst their evolution, La Dispute lose a piece of themselves....

Jacob Kleinberg (4)
I don't think the word darling is on the whole record!...


Comments:Add a Comment 
RosaParks
September 25th 2011


14927 Comments


nope

HenchmanOfSanta
September 25th 2011


1882 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review with some great points. The only real flaw I see in this album (and really the band in general) is it is almost melodramatic to the point of absurdity. And I love it.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

Kris.
September 25th 2011


12355 Comments


so much better than their debut

Scoot
September 25th 2011


17819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

not thrash

album is a 1.5/5

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2011


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Reviews 98
Approval 98%
Site Rank 98


Mordecai.
September 25th 2011


8279 Comments


yeh i think it's pretty great, especially the lyrics

cvlts
September 25th 2011


8967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

jordan dreyer band strikes again

fuckthatnoise
September 25th 2011


1479 Comments


had to bump this up to a 5 today.

ChrisHansen
September 25th 2011


51 Comments


Suck my sack you thrash faggots.

Kris.
September 25th 2011


12355 Comments


i really dont understand why you're emeritus you review more often than like 3/4ths of the staff

ShadowRemains
September 25th 2011


21068 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

^

Digging: Execration (NOR) - Morbid Dimensions

someguest
September 25th 2011


20906 Comments


I disagree with the critique of Somewhere..., but the review was great.

...Wildlife is much more akin to “Eleven” from Here, Hear III – lyrics that speak not of the heartbreak of teen years but of the heartbreak that comes from seeing your home state fall apart.


I appreciate this part.

Digging: Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris

Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 25th 2011


10614 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

album is almost as boring as their debut.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

silentstar
September 25th 2011


2274 Comments


Loved the review :]

Knott-
Emeritus
September 25th 2011


10198 Comments


CAN I STILL GET INTO HEAVEN IF I KILL MYSELF?

album is amazing

Josh D.
September 25th 2011


13968 Comments


This isn't going to get a very good rating from me in the end.

SHAKEandBAKE
September 25th 2011


1310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic album. I'm not sure it's fair to assume that La Dispute aren't fond of "Somewhere," though.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2011


50587 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I don't get it

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

RosaParks
September 25th 2011


14927 Comments


album is much more boring than their debut. Everything sucks but the lyrics and I guess the vocals are okay, but those get old too after 50 minutes of them

twlichty
September 25th 2011


3412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

album is so dull



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