A Lot Like Birds
DIVISI


4.5
superb

Review

by beachdude USER (36 Reviews)
May 4th, 2017 | 172 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A meticulously executed stylistic leap.

“Don’t we all arrive at the same place where we began"”

This one repeated line opens and closes DIVISI, the long-awaited fourth album by A Lot Like Birds, and also acts a statement of purpose for the record as a whole. Nearly four years after releasing the acclaimed No Place, which added an enhanced sense of melancholy and haunting ambiance to the band’s chaotic post-hardcore blend, A Lot Like Birds returns changed in many ways. And DIVISI is the perfect representation of the current state of the band, simultaneously displaying a dramatic stylistic leap and an introduction to group’s new lineup, while also feeling like a largely natural progression from their previous work. Most impressively, A Lot Like Birds successfully juggles these various objectives without skipping a beat, not only justifying their continued existence as a group, but pushing forward to create arguably their most cohesive and complete work to date.

Following singer Kurt Travis’ departure from A Lot Like Birds last year, much of the band’s fanbase became concerned about potential shifts in their sound. Rumors abounded that unclean vocalist Cory Lockwood was taking vocal lessons to move entirely from screams to singing, and that the band was moving dramatically into the mellower sonic space occupied by guitarist/main composer Michael Franzino’s side project alone. While both these rumors ended up being accurate to varying degrees, describing DIVISI simply on those terms is both a dramatic oversimplification, and a disservice to the work the band has created. While the album indeed features almost entirely clean vocals, and the 12 tracks on display here tone down the frantic fury of their previous albums in favor of tighter songwriting and hooks, this is far from a detriment. Rather, the band seems to take the most emotionally charged elements of No Place, and expand them outward into an album full of soaring, passionate vocals and haunting guitar melodies.

Additionally, DIVISI displays a wide sonic range that was not present to the same degree on alone.’s debut album Somewhere in the Sierras. Despite A Lot Like Birds’ newfound sense of restraint, there are still a plethora of hard-hitting instrumental moments on display, particularly in the album’s final four-song stretch. “Further Below” brilliantly showcases the talents of the band’s newest addition, bassist/vocalist Matt Coate, as the track fades in to a furious bass line and gripping multi-tracked vocal harmonies. “Good Soil, Bad Seeds” contains one of the most funky, addicting riffs Franzino has composed to date, serving as a perfect launching pad for Cory Lockwood’s distorted vocals.

Lockwood himself provides what is almost certainly the most impressive, and unexpected, performance on DIVISI. Always a standout among screamed vocalists in the post-hardcore scene for his contemplative, intricate lyricism, moving to clean vocals allows Lockwood to display a substantially wider emotional range, and take his rightful place as the band’s primary frontman. “Divisi” is defined as “a musical direction indicating that a section of players should be divided into two or more groups, each playing a different part”, and Lockwood’s lyrics on the album touch upon the recurring theme of separation in myriad ways. Lead single “For Shelley (Unheard)” is a moving tribute to Lockwood’s mother, who acted as the bedrock of his stability and optimism, before succumbing to illness last year. “Trace The Lines” is a musing on the pains of getting over an ex-lover who Lockwood still sees “in all the windows, outlining every street”. And closing track “Divisi” ties together the album’s themes of the impermanence of life and human connection in a stirring sendoff. Opening with Lockwood utilizing both spoken-word and screams, the track builds to a sung climax containing some of the frontman’s most passionate vocals to date: “We were made to be unmade/Tied with strings designed to fray/I just want our knot together/It’s holding now, but not forever”.

The track’s final fadeout, returning to the same musical motif and lyric as opener “Always Burning, Always Dark”, sends a powerful message. The band seems to be instructing the listener to cherish every moment of our fleeting existence, before we all inevitably return to the nothingness from which we were formed. It is a powerful statement of purpose, one that bookends an album as meticulously crafted and toiled over as anything A Lot Like Birds has created to date. While many bands who struggle through major lineup changes, stylistic departures, and vocalists changing their delivery in dramatic ways suffer from “growing pains” and early stumbles, DIVISI feels like the sound of a band that took its many changes in stride, executing its new vision with masterful grace and depth. Far from being on the verge of irrelevance, the story of A Lot Like Birds is in fact only beginning.



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user ratings (179)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 STAFF (3.3)
You could say it, but it won't mean a thing / cos you know I'll fall for, each and every pretty word...

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

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

Sebastian (2.5)
Kurtastrophe....



Comments:Add a Comment 
ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2017


11680 Comments


Great review man, always a pleasure to read (:

beachdude
May 4th 2017


846 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man! Don't expect everyone to agree with me on this one, but I like to think I at least articulated my thoughts on it well.

treos777
May 4th 2017


325 Comments


nice review - just a small thing second line should be "also acts as a statement" you've missed out the "as"

gonna listen to this now - felt mixed on the singles so hopefully the context of the album lifts them

BandanaGeorge
May 4th 2017


43 Comments


Loved this bands previous work, singles for this were really promising so i'm looking forward to listening to this one. Nice review man.

jtswope
May 4th 2017


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hmm, this should be interesting.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
May 4th 2017


16107 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

such a poor record even despite the fact the band self-neutered. it's like most the songs do nothing but lazily build up until the bridge where something interesting happens. but kurt didn't provide anything to this group that cory and matt don't do equally well in my opinion so his loss means pretty little.

Tyler.
May 4th 2017


16667 Comments


I'm glad this sucks fuck this band

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2017


41587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I hope the Sound of Us is the worst song on this because that was pretty weaksauce. For Shelley was real nice

Digging: Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After - Vol. 2

SteakByrnes
May 4th 2017


14566 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If this is anything like the singles, this is gonna be a hard 2.5

Slex
May 4th 2017


6420 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@Row some of the songs remind me so much of The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi so I think there'll at least be some tracks you really dig



That said, I think For Shelley is embarrassingly bad, and that's coming from someone who thinks this is a really great album

Digging: Blessed (CAN) - Salt

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2017


41587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

that chorus in For Shelley is phenomenal, also it's the first glimpse of old Cory-level lyricism I've heard in this so far



there's definitely a bit of Mi Fa Mi but it's watered-down Smoke and Mirrors Mi Fa Mi for the most part

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2017


41587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

second half of this definitely redeems a mediocre first

Tyler.
May 4th 2017


16667 Comments


Band is the opposite of nicer dicer

Nomos
May 4th 2017


1737 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Growing on me every time I listen!

Tyler.
May 4th 2017


16667 Comments


Shut the fuck up

botreezy
May 5th 2017


42 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

First half of this was extremely weak. Second half was much better in moments but still was never very consistent.

ajcollins15
May 5th 2017


39 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If there is one person who alone uses the argument that the album is weak because there is no screams I will honestly come punch yu in the face! Yes the first half isn't as strong as the second half! But the first half grabs the darkness and eeriness of No Place, and strips it back into a really beautiful set of ballads! If you other arguments on top of no screams then your fine!

treos777
May 5th 2017


325 Comments


@Rowan5215
"there's definitely a bit of Mi Fa Mi but it's watered-down Smoke and Mirrors Mi Fa Mi for the most part"

agree hard
I'll probably grow to like this more but yeahhh at the moment it's okay i'm liking it alright meh
I wish bands would do multi vocalists like TREOS did - some recent TWIABP songs are close but yeah

Nomos
May 5th 2017


1737 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

fuck did i do to you tyler?





Maaaaaaan the last 4 songs are good.

Poobamku
May 5th 2017


15 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Album is awful. Lyrics are ver bland for cory. Michael braught too much alone over. Gone is the complexity and duality of music. Bland album. Etherial as fuck tho.



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