Grand Rapids, Michigan-based post-hardcore purveyors La Dispute have grown significantly since the release of debut record Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair in 2008, and the proof is in sophomore album Wildlife. While singer Jordan Dreyer’s vocals and the instrumental performances previously competed for the listeners’ attention, here the bandmembers not only work together more cohesively, but also the vocals and instruments complement each other. Musically, guitarists Kevin Whittemore and Chad Sterenberg place less emphasis on unusual time signatures, opting instead for emotionally charged chord progressions, as bassist Adam Vass and drummer Bradley Vander Lugt lay down tense rhythms. This helps propel Dreyer’s alternately singing-speaking vocal style, where he delivers matured lyrics inspired by loss and despair on songs about gang violence (“King Park”), mental health (“Edward Benz, 27 Times”), and the death of a child (“I See Everything”). The composition even stretches into concept album territory, offering four monologues presented as an author’s unpublished short stories (“A Departure,” “A Letter,” “A Poem,” “A Broken Jar”). Wildlife is the best of both worlds, serving up the energy and power fans have come to expect from La Dispute, but showing a maturity beyond the band’s years.
by Chrysta Cherrie