La Dispute named their latest album Wildlife, but it just as easily could have been called Introspection and Empathy, because every song falls into one of the two categories. Fans of the band are used to singer/poet Jordan Dreyer opening himself up for the sake of art. What’s new in Wildlife is this new-found appreciation for what is external to him.
Wildlife explores loss and pain in its various forms: death of a child, urban decay, schizophrenia and violence among others. But It doesn’t stop there. The album delves into faith, hope and love that overcome. It does so, not by providing answers, but by asking questions. How did we get like this and how do we cope? Take this excerpt from I See Everything.
“January 19, we buried our son today, our youngest child, and while this death was ugly we must not let it scare us from God Abundant grace has restored him. A brand new body. And set him free from the torture, finally rid of the cancer. Before the moment he left he briefly wrested from death, suddenly opened his eyes, said, “I SEE EVERYTHING. I SEE EVERYTHING.”
How can two parents find such peace when their child dies? Read the full lyrics here with dry eyes—I dare you. This song gives a glimpse into the total album, where the song as art is king. Guitars, drums and voices all join together to advance the song, and never take over.
Musically, the album is closest to the post-hardcore emo bands of the last five years or so, but not quite as heavy. In fact, the sound on Wildlfe is less raw than previous releases. The guitarists remind me of Chris DeGarmo from Queensryche in that they play with judicious efficiency, never playing three notes when one will do. Guitarists Chad Sterenburg and Kevin Whittemore bring a more modern sound to this album, doing away with the classic rock rhythms that characterized many songs on the band’s previous release. The change isn’t better or worse, just different.
Energetic Drummer Brad Vanger Lugt and bassist Adam Vass generally drive the songs with a wide variety of beats ranging from rock to jazz. The underrated duo is definitely a strength of the band. Edward Benz, 27 Times is a great example of giving just enough bass and drums at just the right moments to maximize impact.
You can’t listen to La Dispute without noticing vocalist Jordan Dreyer. Though he is surrounded by great talent, his soulful passion and song writing make the band what it is. In Wildlife his voice sounds more mature and less whiny. Rather than focusing on the extremes between quiet and screaming, Jordan uses subtle inflections to portray emotion.
I’ve listened to Wildlife for a couple weeks now and it’s already my favorite of the year. Unless Mewithoutyou releases their new album in the next few months, I don’t see anything coming close to it. I highly recommend Wildlife to anyone with a beating heart. But don’t buy Wildlife just for the music. Buy it for the art and passion.
- 1. a Departure
- 2. Harder Harmonies
- 3. St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues
- 4. Edit Your Hometown
- 5. a Letter
- 6. Safer in the Forest Love Song for Poor Michigan
- 7. The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
- 8. a Poem
- 9. King Park
- 10. Edward Benz, 27 Times
You can listen to Wildlife and all La Dispute albums online at the band’s website.