A Lot Like Birds
DIVISI


3.3
great

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
May 6th, 2017 | 75 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You could say it, but it won't mean a thing / cos you know I'll fall for, each and every pretty word you sing.

The question I keep coming back to, listen after listen, is "how am I supposed to not judge this harshly in light of their past work?" Is that being unfair? Hell, any band who decide on such a drastic musical change – if you want to call it a deciding process, as opposed to following a muse or just goin' with the flow, bro – kind of invite endless feverish comparisons to beloved classics. On the other hand, the game was extra rigged against DIVISI from the get-go; in post-hardcore especially there's a well established all-caps dialogue about bands who soften up and sell out, and those of us who subscribe to this lovely little genre largely agree that No Place was a really, really ***ing good album. Actually, that album is intertwined with that one year of my life so tightly I may as well title a chapter of my future autobiography after it, so what, did you expect me to just not hate this or something, Cory?

What he expected was all of us to give DIVISI an honest listen, which is a privilege that any album deserves at least once. So I did. The anchor I kept grasping for throughout was The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi, maybe the only sophomore album in this entire genre that's managed a drastic sound change and stayed just as good as the album that preceded it. Let's be clear: DIVISI is fine, but it's no Mi Fa Mi. A Lot Like Birds have the atmospheric-into-loud-with-two-singers dynamic going for them, and Matt Coate does step up in a major way vocally, but they lack the corkscrew melodies that Alex and Brendan used to wind around their stunningly gorgeous music, not to mention Brian Southall's malfunctioning laptop electronics. The issue isn't that Cory is a bad singer – he's pretty damn good, on the whole - nor that he doesn't scream as much anymore, he just lacks the instant barbed hook choruses that Kurt seemed to carry around in a magic bag. Listen to how "Atoms in Evening" and "Infinite Chances" build up their verses expertly, only for a stinker of a hook to crash in like a heavy stone on a satin sheet. Franzino and Coate fill the Kurt-shaped hole well with their respective six and four string wizardry, but "Further Below" is the only point where either is let off the chain. In fact, DIVISI doesn't actually resolve what it wants to be until about halfway through, when the band's freedom to experiment finally starts sounding like, well, a freedom instead of a blueprint for the same song four times. You can hear the exact point they hit the turning point on "The Smoother The Stone", which sounds like a sentient song building itself piece by piece, a sort of stringed electro-freakout while Cory revisits his greatest ever verse from "Hand Over Mouth, Over and Over". Unsurprisingly, the best cuts here largely cast off choruses in favour of a mid-tune left turn, like the unexpected brassy breakdown in "No Attention for Solved Puzzles", or "Further Below"'s Thursday-worshipping cyclical ending.

Change is dumb and annoying and stupid. Or so the fervent No Place stan who still inhabits me screams from the inside. Maybe that's why I was predisposed to give this album a lashing from the start, but screw expectations. Cory can still navigate his way through a metaphor more elegantly than calligraphers can write their names, and honestly, the continuing story of this man I've never met's life is the real reason I keep tuning in, record after record. This isn't the album I wanted, but even that doesn't matter just for a minute in the title track, as the screams finally break through some spooky piano and cooing backing vocals. I was never all that bothered about Cory moving over to cleans – he sang a fair bit on "Connector" and "Recluse", still their best songs from a compositional standpoint – but when those pitchy, scratchy yelps burst through, it still feels like nothing less than an old friend visiting home again. Then DIVISI quietly ends, looping back on itself lyrically The Wall-style, with the first line as the last. There's no strong narrative reason for this, apart from a general interest in the cycles of life and death, but Cory has never been obsessively linear anyway (does the protagonist commit suicide at the end of "Kuroi Ledge"? Does he escape the house in the last track? Does it matter?). Those closing lines philosophise that we all end at the same place we began. If that's true, A Lot Like Birds have a long way to go before they arrive back at their original selves' doorstep, and that's just fine.



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user ratings (133)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Alex Dansereau CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
A meticulously executed stylistic leap....

Tony (2)
No place for me....

Zachery S. Cotto (3)
“I hope you’re eternal, but all I have is hope.”...

Sebastian (2.5)
Kurtastrophe....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

it's no jade's-review-for-No Place but I tried ok

verdant
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2017


1778 Comments


no, but a rowan's-review-for-DIVISI is just a good. well done, i will listen to this now

dangerousdarrin
May 6th 2017


29 Comments


Didn't know this was coming out so soon. Will check it out. I do love No Place.

GreyShadow
May 6th 2017


1720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"but when those pitchy, scratchy yelps burst through, it still feels like nothing less than an old friend visiting home again." what a heartwarming way to put it. Excellent review.





Just finished my first listen. There are some nice elements to this but I feel like nothing ever reaches the high point that they all seem to set out for. The last 4 tracks are all really good but fall short of being something great.



The vocals are definitely good, but the hooks are lacking. For Shelly is definitely the overall best song here. I think the last 4 were a bit closer to the sound I wanted for them but they just needed more. For Shelly is such a strong emotionally charged showcase for Cory and it made me really excited for this. The other 2 singles kinda killed that excitement but album ended up being good. 3.3 actually sounds like the exact score for this right now.

Digging: Circa Survive - The Amulet

GreyShadow
May 6th 2017


1720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm a bit low on funds atm but I was gonna base if I saw them this week or not depending on how much I liked this since they are playing it in its entirety but it doesn't seem like that's happening.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

aw shucks thanks Land



Grey I've heard they're phenomenal live no matter if they're playing new or old stuff so it's a shame about your money. I really like For Shelley too, it's the only song on the first half I'll return to probably, but No Attention through title track eclipses it imo

GreyShadow
May 6th 2017


1720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've seen them with Kurt at Warped a few years ago and they killed it. I'd definitely go if I could but I'm trying to save for some other shows and whatnot. It's unfortunate because the only real expense is transportation which always ends up being more than the concert itself for bands like this. I feel like this would sound much cooler in a live setting too. Plus it would be a great way to celebrate my 2nd to last year of college ending, so I'll see how this grows on me throughout the week.





I thought the structure of No Attention was cool and a needed change of pace but I don't think it was executed in a way that I enjoyed.

Drubbi
May 6th 2017


188 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Back half is good, front half is not. Shame really, Shaking of the Frame came on my playlist just now and it's hard to think this is the same dudes.

Digging: I the Mighty - Where The Mind Wants to Go/Where You Let it Go

FreddieDelaney31
May 6th 2017


3287 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Such a good review rowbro, also starting to agree more and more unfortunately

Digging: King Krule - The OOZ

beachdude
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2017


841 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review man! It's funny, as someone who enjoys this quite a bit more than you I also considered the comparison to The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi in a more positive context... I think this album shares some of the atmosphere and thematic ambition that album has, although I'm not sure I'd quite put it on the level of TREOS yet. Good minds think alike I suppose.



In any case I really don't expect everyone to click with this like I did, and I fully get where you're coming from as a fellow huge fan. Like you said, Cory's storytelling has always been a huge selling point of the band for me, and for me that's as strong here as ever despite the vocal change (and partly because of it), so that's largely what helps "sell" the change for me personally.

sexpoi
May 6th 2017


646 Comments


Didn't Cory do vocals on Plan B? Or was that Franzino? I actually quite liked the vocals before Kurt joined, even though Kurt kind of helped elevate the sound.


Edit: After listening to the first song on this, it's definitely Franzino that sang on Plan B. Not sure why they didn't go back to him.

Momentai
May 6th 2017


38 Comments


More then anything this makes me want to relisten to the earth sings mi fa mi. Swallow people whole is one of my favorite songs ever. Took me a solid minute staring at the summary line to go ohhhhhh dang what are receiving ends of sirens lyrics doing here LOL. i think you prove your point extremely well with the comparison.

treos777
May 6th 2017


266 Comments


mi fa mi is sooo good
also loove this review great job!

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

thanks all. yeah Cory screamed on Plan B but he didn't do any clean vocals till Connector that I can recall, unless I'm missing some from Conversation Piece



agreed beachdude, just wish it had a strong concept to hold it together like No Place did rather than the fairly tacked on ooh it ends where it starts! but oh well

GreyShadow
May 7th 2017


1720 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can see this thing as a whole growing on me. I feel like the production could have made certain moments pop a bit more, but that's fine. Good Soil and Divisi are definitely the highlights here....but then I go back to Recluse and I am suddenly back at square 1 with this new one. Cory really does have some of the best screams in the game currently.

FourthReich
May 7th 2017


2125 Comments


Super generous rating this band is fucking trash but youre probably the best reviewer on here besides johnny boy row

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

you'll make me blush mitch, damn

FourthReich
May 7th 2017


2125 Comments


:p

buzzkites
May 7th 2017


225 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

holy fuck wasn't this band all about weird riffs



also wtf is that gay spoken word poem (?) in the middle of the album

buzzkites
May 7th 2017


225 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3.5



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