La Dispute
Wildlife


5.0
classic

Review

by Drubbi USER (54 Reviews)
January 24th, 2017 | 7 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist


La Dispute is important to me. I remember the day ‘King Park’ played through my ears, an explosion of environment, each vivid detail being played out in front of me. I was that ghost hovering above the town. I was that Uncle pleading and begging for no more casualties. It was that moment I knew I had found my perfect album, something I wanted to dissect piece by piece. Wildlife is an expansive, intertwined city, filled with broken down houses and weathered old friends with secrets to keep and stories to tell. And so that’s where I find myself; placed in the middle of measured chaos, ready to face it head on.

“To scratched out, for everything.”

The plodding guitar line that opens ‘A Departure’ is one of tiresome hands; slow, but methodical and purposeful. As the full band comes in, the gloomy bass line drags down the already struggling guitar, the lyrics pleading: “Maybe you know what I’m talking about/Or maybe you would have known, or had known/Is it once knew/I don’t know what tense to use”. The song continually builds up and down, struggling to keep any resemblance of positivity. As the track leads into ‘Harder Harmonies’, the chaos is no longer kept down, instead released through hard drum hits, simple bass notes and frantic guitar lines. With our character struggling to adjust himself to those around him, the guitar line dances back and forth; “Falls to the floor/Smiles as it hits/Sounds a little like an instrument”, and as the song begins to wind down, so too does out character: “There’s a melody in everything/I’m trying to find a harmony/Nothing seems to work/Nothing fits.”

‘St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues’ progresses our story, our character reminiscing about an abandoned church, likening its current deterioration from past glory to themselves: “That old abandoned church/Have I gone the same, sad way”. A more measured song compared to ‘Harder Harmonies’, the track builds over time, the guitars getting bigger and bigger, resulting in an epic climax. Following track ‘Edit Your Hometown’ finds our character struggling with his heritage. As the heavy bassline carries the track, his pleading words contain true pain; a message for others who have the choice: “Don’t make the same mistakes as me/Say goodbye and be gone and be great/And be done and be free”. The true passion presented in the lyrics carries an already well-backed album, breathing life into a story that paints itself in the listener’s mind.

”I think the thing is I shut off from everything.”

As phase two of Wildlife begins, we find our character struggling with life in ‘A Letter’. Far from the typical cliché lyricism, vocalist Jordan Dreyer has an incredible way with words, consistently stealing the show from an ever-consistent guitar, bass and drum line. The emotion portrayed in the lines ”Do I feel embarrassed about it"/I think you know the answer to that” seems so incredibly personal, at times it becomes near-impossible to differentiate Jordan from the characters in the music. Following track ‘Safer In The Forest/Love Song For Poor Michigan’ starts off much slower than the previous tracks, as too does ‘The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit’. Both tracks are led by an intricate guitar line that maintains its softer tone and only deviating to change with the tone of the song. ‘Safer…’ picks up around the three-minute mark, both guitars simultaneously portraying a sudden panic and want for change: “I need to leave but swear I will carry you in me until the end”. Guitarists Kevin Whittemore and Chad Sterenberg manage to keep songs fresh with their ever-changing riffs, never wasting a moment. At the same time, however, they know the limits of the songs and the characters themselves, and take incredible care in how and when they rise and fall with the song. ‘…Bitter Fruit’, for example, picks up and settles down constantly, and thus the guitars easily work themselves around the story being told: [i]”See, all the secrets I keep, why are they secrets"”

”Third time writing you a letter/Getting darker.”

If phase two was the reprieve, the time to relax and attempt to take it all in, the three-pronged attack of ‘King Park’, ‘Edward Benz, 27 Times’ and ‘I See Everything’ is the sudden darkness overtaking our characters. Starting with ‘A Poem’, our protagonist is not getting any better, struggling to see why they even began to write: ”I had a reason for the writing/But trying to exorcise my demons didn’t work”. This depressing atmosphere is traded for one of a more frantic nature, the drum line from Brad Vander Lugt driving forward the environment being built around the listener in ‘King Park’. The track, however, would be nothing without the story behind it. Describing the drive-by shooting death of an innocent child, the song rises and falls as our character travels throughout the city. As the listener is engrossed in the story, the guitar lines slowing to a crawl as the funeral is announced, the character responsible for the shooting is soon found. As Jordan’s lyrics build in intensity, so too does the instrumentals; guitar lines are screeching, drums are rising in anticipation, all building to one of the most chilling moments in music: ”Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself"”. Our guilty character is pleading for answers, unwilling to live with the guilt of killing an innocent child. Before it all erupts, however, our character refuses to learn of the outcome, leading us away from the inevitable. The seven-minute behemoth of a track ebbs and flows so effortlessly that the ending, however explosive, still maintains an incredible sense of emotion without the need of cheap lyrics or sudden shifts.

As we leave one dark corner of the town, we move to the next, our character meeting an old man needing assistance with a door in ‘Edward Benz, 27 Times’. Although seemingly a simple premise, we learn much more from this man, his portrayal by Dreyer meticulous but unsteady: ”When I looked in your eyes and I heard what you said/How you probably would’ve died/were it not to care for your daughter and your wife”. The character’s dealings with his schizophrenic son is so carefully built up throughout the song that, despite the title of the song, the listener is lulled into a false sense of peace while the calm guitars play over their conversation. This same calmness maintains as Jordan describes the scene in vivid detail, the song slowing to a crawl as the gruesome scene plays out in front of the listener. As it picks up towards the end, so too does Jordan, displaying true pain as the song comes to its final moments: “Ed if you hear me/I think of you often/That’s all I can offer/That’s all that I know how to give.”

The darkness of the prior two songs shows no signs of dissipating, with ‘I See Everything’ starting quick and rarely letting up. As the diary of a Mother recording her son’s dealings with cancer is portrayed, the severity of the situation is portrayed excellently in the musicianship. Vocals are strained and quick, guitars screech and tremble, bass and drums drag along and keep the mood low. Hearing Jordan scream “I see everything/I see everything” is truly haunting, elegantly leading into a slower recount of his thoughts regarding the Mother’s continued faith with God despite the tragedy of losing her son to cancer: “I am devoid of all faith/I am empty of comfort/And I am weary of waiting/Thought I’ve felt nowhere what you have/I see nothing at all”.

”Who have I been writing to"/I’m not sure anymore.”

As ‘A Broken Jar’ finds out character struggling to understand why he continues to write, the anger portrayed through not only the vocal delivery but the instruments themselves, is a moment of beauty. Acoustic guitars start slow. Drums fade in and then blare with purpose as everything begins to cave in on our protagonist. And as soon as it does, the music backs off again, fading into ‘All Our Bruised Bodies And The Whole Heart Shrinks’. By far the gloomiest track on the record, and perhaps an overview of the previous Wildlife tracks, the song deals with a myriad of dark events in life; Cancer taking a child, heart attacks taking fathers. However, the overall feel of the track is one of struggle for purpose. Dreyer’s lyricism reaches its peak on the song, with the character (or perhaps Jordan himself) struggling to understand the purpose of a life full of tragedy: “And what of those necessities"/Like how to cope with tragedy and pain"/Did anybody ever show you how"”. His recount of tragedies mentioned throughout Wildlife string together what is an already monumental record; the mother maintaining faith despite her child passing due to cancer, a father still believing in his son despite his obvious illness and prior attacks. The struggles of these people are beautifully woven together, marking a point in the album that cannot be surpassed. And as the song winds down, Jordan bellows the last lines repeatedly, seemingly struggling to come to terms with what life will throw at him: ”I wonder what I’ll find/I wonder”.

And as closer ‘You And I In Unison’ brings the album to a close, it allows the listener to reflect on what they’ve just experienced; perfection in musical form. Wildlife is, from start to finish, a perfect display of emotion, storytelling and musicianship. Guitars, drums and bass all are perfectly scattered throughout the album, not once detracting from the stories being told. Jordan Dreyer’s ability to create such intriguing stories with just one song is unrivalled, allowing the listener to connect with the stories so seamlessly. His vocals, although scratchy, are perfect for the type of stories he wants to tell. Those of loss, grief, tragedy. Not once does the album let up on its concept, floating between songs perfectly. But, at the same time, minus the bridging tracks, all songs stand tall on their own. And as ‘You And I In Unison’ drags down, guitars beginning to fade, Jordan screaming just one last line, one can only hope for something as perfect as Wildlife.



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user ratings (1765)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
VheissuCrisis EMERITUS (3)
Amidst their evolution, La Dispute lose a piece of themselves....

mynameischan EMERITUS (4)
La Dispute are still screaming your name - in unison this time....

DirEnRefused (4)
La Dispute: More cohesive, more infectious....

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


Comments:Add a Comment 
Drubbi
January 24th 2017


194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nearly 1700 words. By far the biggest review I've ever written. Favourite album of all time.



Feedback appreciated as always. Enjoy.

Digging: Hail the Sun - Secret Wars

Flugmorph
January 24th 2017


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yep thats a long ass review. Very good album, i like their debut a little more though.

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us

Drubbi
January 24th 2017


194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Flugmorph yeah I'm the same, my ex's brother gave me Wildlife signed by all the members though so I'm inclined to like this one better.

AsleepInTheBack
January 24th 2017


5117 Comments


need to check these guys out asap

BlushfulHippocrene
January 24th 2017


2013 Comments


Just commenting so I remember to read this. :] Haven't listened to this in a while.

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

Cormano
January 24th 2017


1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sic review, pos'd

PumpBoffBag
January 24th 2017


882 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album, nice review. Pretty long like, but I get it, there's a lot to talk about on this.



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