A Lot Like Birds
Conversation Piece


4.5
superb

Review

by Jacob Royal STAFF
October 26th, 2011 | 768 replies | 48,608 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Conversation Piece serves as a definitive time capsule of the best that post-hardcore has had to offer throughout the years.

The idea of change is initially an exciting prospect, but after the dust settles it’s rather disquieting. When orienting yourself with a particular idea over time, having it snatched away in an instant is an experience that can leave you feeling numb. It truly takes guts to step away from the calming comfort of staying true to what comes most instinctually, especially when the ground under your feet has shifted vastly. A Lot Like Birds know this phenomenon quite well; the process of shuffling through vocalists doesn’t quite leave as many constants as, say, the departure of a bassist. After all, the vocals of a band serve as more than a mere piece to the conceptual puzzle they work towards as a unit. It’s the pinnacle of ideas spewing directly from their minds, a “cutting of the middleman”, so to speak, which allows music to be more relatable to us, to mean much more emotionally.

Noting this, the former Dance Gavin Dance vocalist, Kurt Travis, had a lot to live up to within this landmark release. Conveniently, Travis’ bands share a niche in the post-hardcore realm, so the biggest concern was actually balancing upon the delicate tightrope between preserving the original style found in A Lot Like Birds ’ earlier work and contributing to a broader musical palette, expanding the band’s potential. Their choice to let Kurt in was indeed a wise one, and in the long run contributes to the most exhilarating and entertaining release of 2011, and should most assuredly sate the hunger of those that have been itching for a good post-hardcore outing.

“Il était un fois” (translated to “once upon a time” in French), Conversation Piece's opening line, portrays astutely the dynamic nature of the album’s lyrics, and sets a fitting precedent for the rest of the album. The lyrics really do tell intriguing stories, for instance, by stringing off-kilter analogies that usually should be nowhere near each other “When learning how to crawl became a substitute for walking; biting my tongue a fair exchange for talking to myself”; telling a story through the most imaginative means possible. Kurt Travis' collaboration with band mate Cory Lockwood over microphone duties complements the pandemonium of the music itself rather excellently, and when their voices soar above the music during the stirring choruses, the former problem the band had of finding competent vocals seems to all but have faded away. Inevitably, the gravelly vocals will be found irksome by some, but it honestly adds to the integrity of the album. And not only are the vocals incredible, but the music itself is incredibly heartfelt, honestly the most genuine display of post-hardcore in quite some time. And with blots of progressive sprinkled throughout the release, Conversation Piece has quite the apt title; this release is an enormously fascinating one, in that so many genres are melded together successfully. Not only are they magnificently pulled off; frankly, the band one-ups the specializations of many of its predecessors. The annoying-more-often-than-not vocals of Dance Gavin Dance find a more fitting home on Conversation Piece, letting the music do the talking when necessary, because as enjoyable as the grittier vocals are, they are most potent in moderation and this is realized by the band. Also, the progressive styling of the album reminds one of Circa Survive ’s more experimental side, except actually used towards a goal and not just abused without cause. And my goodness, the swells of “Abbr.” convey emotion as effectively as any of the greatest post-rock artists. What terrain can’t Conversation Piece cover?

These gentlemen are just immeasurably endowed, being able to accomplish within one album (and not even a particularly long one) what so many others have been striving for, from one album to the next. It would not be, by any stretch of the imagination, too much to claim that Conversation Piece serves as a definitive time capsule of the best that post-hardcore has had to offer throughout the years. With what is only their sophomore release, we can truly expect greatness from this group, as A Lot Like Birds are becoming more and more fundamental to the scene they belong to with every ounce of new material, and will indeed serve as a conversation piece for many years to come.



Recent reviews by this author
SZA ZTycho Awake
CHON Woohoo!Cynic Kindly Bent to Free Us
Olafur Arnalds Another Happy DayIcarus the Owl Icarus the Owl
user ratings (588)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
thelastsignal (4.5)
Conversation Piece is the most creative and enjoyable post hardcore listen that has surfaced in quit...

Charlie (4)
Post-hardcore rockers A Lot Like Birds take an otherwise stagnating genre into new and exciting dire...

mrpurple (2)
Too much insanity, nothing really enjoyable was spawned....

danielito19 (2.5)
A Lot Like Birds now sound like their name would imply they do....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

About time somebody got to this monster of an album- feedback would be appreciated!

Digging: Koan Sound - Dynasty

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 26th 2011



23652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Plan B was pretty good but I don't like The fall of Troy or Dance Gavin Dance, apprehensive about listening to this

pretty good review

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Saturday
October 26th 2011



90 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you for finally reviewing this, pretty decent album.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Stokes have you looked into the lyrics? They really bring something new to the table.

And Aids, thanks a lot man. Honestly the frantic side of TFOT is the main reason I put them under recommended, and I'm not a huge DGD fan either. This album just works for me; it feels like an amalgamation of the good aspects of the other bands

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Sure thing, Saturday! 'Twas all for you, my friend ;]

RosaParks
October 26th 2011



14592 Comments


ehhh

foxblood
October 26th 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i thought the album started off a little weak, but it gets much much better. don't agree that this is quite a definitive post hardcore release or that they upstage DGD but to each his own. it definitely has some incredible moments. i'm in between a 4 and 3.5 on this idk

foxblood
October 26th 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pos'd though, thanks for reviewing this

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I getcha, Stokes! It isn't for everyone.

And thanks FoxBlood. I actually think it may start off more strongly than it ends though, honestly; Orange Time Machines Care is one of my favorite songs from this year. That's interesting that you prefer the second half. What song do you enjoy the most?

foxblood
October 26th 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hm interesting. orange time machines care is probably my least fav track on here haha, i'm not crazy over the first three tracks . properties of friction is my favorite, the blowtorch is applied to the sugar is a close second.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I feel like Orange is the most heartfelt track on here, although there are others that are very impressive as well. Yeah, Properties of Friction is incredible; the way it breaks down is so pretty

SmokingTheClouds
October 26th 2011



639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Outstanding review.

I still say the stand-out tracks are, "Tantrum" & "The Blowtorch Is Applied to the Sugar".

WatchItExplode
October 26th 2011



3072 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Glad you reviewed this Mr. Stylee; I have this but didn't dare listen until someone at Sputnik told me what to expect.

The review flows well but seems a tad heavy on the vocals/lyrics. Good work though, nothing I haven't been guilty of myself....pos

taxidermist
October 26th 2011



7175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Orange Time Machines Care is also one of my favs.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

SmokingTheClouds, thank you very much x] I also love Tantrum, it's an outstanding track.

WatchItExplode, I'm glad I was able to be the one to convince you to check it out! ;] I can understand why the part about the vocals would seem a little excessive; my intentions were to describe how well they meshed with the music, because bringing in a new vocalist can be bad if not executed well.

And Taxidermist knows where it's at. Honestly I can't imagine not viewing it as an album highlight, it pretty much encapsulates everything about this album I love.

taxidermist
October 26th 2011



7175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I still don't understand that 3 though, Stokes. The overall musicianship of the album warrants it at least a 3.5.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2011



9492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah, I found the musicianship on this really interesting. The beauty of Abbr., the fun riffs in THINK
DIRTY OUT LOUD, the splendor of the middle section of Properties of Friction

elephantREVOLUTION
October 26th 2011



2702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yeah the musicianship is really good. i just started to notice all the cool bass parts.

Digging: IDYLLS - Prayer For Terrene

ZilbelPing
October 26th 2011



5788 Comments


This review has now encouraged me to download this when I get home. I loved Plan B so I hope this lives up.

danielito19
October 26th 2011



3020 Comments


It doesn't.

Digging: Ground Zero - Revolutionary Pekinese Opera, Ver. 1.28



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy