Michigan's post-hardcore outfit La Dispute debuted with an
eight-song EP, Vancouver (2006), that stood out for
bassist Adam Vass and guitarist Chad Sterenberg in
A Word Of Welcome And Warning and The Surgeon and the Scientist)
and general frenzy (To Withstand the Force of Storms ), although half
of the songs were not particularly impressive.
Jordan Dreyer's tormented monologues trasformed into something much more
Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair (No Sleep, 2008).
The highlight of the album (and of their entire career) is the
twelve-minute The Last Lost Continent,
a masterpiece of recitation worthy of BBC's theatrical productions,
a case of vehement spoken-word that makes "screamo" sound harmless.
After eight-minutes, after leaving the stage to the pulsation of a barely
strummed bass guitar, Dreyer and his cohorts flirt with Brech-Weill's cabaret,
and end with a choral proclamation over war drums.
Such impeccable performance had not been heard since the heydays of
Jello Biafra and
The album actually begins in a minor tone, with the
brief Such Small Hands and the
confused Said the King to the River.
Damaged Goods raises the standard with a
show that is as much of the vocalist as of the roaring stuttering guitar.
The backing takes more and more of a protagonist role with the
ghost-blues guitar of Andria
and the prog-rock interaction of Last Blues for Bloody Knuckles.
In Sad Prayers for Guilty Bodies
the guitar turns almost Van Halen and the vocals turn almost death-metal,
but the real emotional shot is the irregular blues guitar motifs of the break.
Music and vocals charge together in synch, reaching a manic level of tension,
in Bury Your Flame.
The range is not trivial at all, from the
oi-grade emphasis of The Castle Builders to the
parodistic pop lament contained in Nobody Not Even the Rain.
This album single-handedly started a screamo revival.
Wildlife (2011) is a more professional work but not necessarily
a more successful one.
Unfortunately, the new format tends to bring the lyrics to the fore.
The style, not the words, are Dreyer's forte. As a poet, he has millions
of competitors. The seven-minute King Park is meant to be the highlight,
but it mostly minimizes the instrumental contribution to make sure that
we get to hear the story.
Rooms of the House (2014)
is another diligent, but not groundbreaking, album.
Some songs show a tendency to dilute their screamo frenzy
into conventional grunge-pop and bar-band's roots-rock
(For Mayor In Splitsville).
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