La Disputes sophomore release, Wildlife, is a mature, shiver-inducing, articulate collection of 14 songs all centred around the theme of suffering, and how people deal with it. Every track is distinctly its own, both lyrically and musically, and they orbit around three different ideas: growing up in Michigan, stories of people who suffered and how they got through, and journal entries from a narrator dealing with some serious existential issues.
The album opens with A Departure, and immediately fans of La Disputes last full length, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River between Vega and Altair, will sense the departure from their previous sound, whilst still keeping the same sensibilities that made them so endearing before. There is a more ‘alternative’ (is there a more ambiguous term to describe a sound?) vibe to the guitar work, akin to what can be found on the Here, Hear EP’s, and some of the lyrics make reference to some of the same situations first brought up on Here, Hear 3. A Departure gives way to Harder Harmonies, which is one of the catchier, crowd oriented songs. It deals with a character (possibly the schizophrenic son from Edward Benz, 27 Times) who considers the parallel between music and life in general (And all the ones who seem to fit the best into the chorus never notice there’s a song/And the ones who seem to hear it end up tortured by the chords when they fail to find a way to sing along). Ending off with a chant, it’s sure to become a gem of their live show.
While the next four songs are brilliant (especially A Letter), and could easily warrant an essay each examining all the ideas that swirl around, The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit is the next highlight. Lyrically, it examines the idea of finding meaning through physical interaction at a party, and has a lovely lyrical throwback to their previous album (Just trying to learn how all the wires in the body work). Musically, it’s one of the more upbeat and danceable tracks, and like Harder Harmonies, will hopefully become a staple of their live set. The next song is more mellow, journal entry style song and has a super heavy emphasis on the lyrics, which talk about that bizarre existential burden that hangs over the narrators head.
And after that, things just get ridiculous.
King Park; Edward Benz, 27 Times; and I See Everything are the three songs that put the most emphasis on examining suffering, and how people deal with it. It uses three incredibly poignant stories about a drive-by shooting gone wrong, a violently schizophrenic son and a seven year old with cancer, respectively. Each song is completely different from each other musically, but they all manage to physically induce shivers through a seamless blend of concise and powerful lyrics coupled with some potentially disharmonic guitar parts and perfectly timed drums. If one has the time to sit and fully devote one’s attention to listening, all three songs will not disappoint.
After that triad of excellence, the album continues on with a final journal entry, then the penultimate track that summarizes some of the lyrical ideas on the album, and ends with You and I in Unison, which is an enjoyably witty title.
If you enjoyed their last release, you will love this album. If you hated them before because of the vocalists style, you’ll probably hate them again. Your loss. Even though all the songs are amazing in their own right (although Edit Your Hometown feels a bit cheesy and cliché at times), specifically check out A Letter, The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit and King Park. If you like what you hear, definitely purchase the full album.