Elevate Difference

Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair

This young five-piece screamo-hardcore band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose album name comes from an Asian folktale, are trying something new. Many of their songs have progressively long intros, which is unusual for their genre of music. Their album begins with the track "Such Small Hands." Bordering on spoken word poetry, the track has a nice build to an emotic end that fizzles out into the next track—the epic "Said the King to the River," which starts out similar to the first track before quickening in tempo. 

The mix of quick beat drums, rising guitars and thoughtful lyrics make La Dispute more complex than the average screamo band. Their songs never stay the same for long, ebbing and flowing like the ocean; each track is a part of a greater story about love and loss. I found it easier to follow the album’s progression when I turned down the volume, which is unusual for me. This may have something to do with lead singer Jordan Dreyer's, at times, whine of a voice, which really turned me off at first. But if you’re used to this type of vocals, and keep the sound level down, the melodies will sweep you past this minor flaw. 

I like "Andria," once it gets passed the spoken part, which borders on whiny and over sentimentality. The intermingling guitars and fast paced drumming compliment the singer's desperate voice, which at times borders on shrill, but not as much on this particular track. I also admittedly have a soft spot for clap solos. 

While many of their tracks are four- to five-minute songs that are hard to classify within an emo aesthetic, La Dispute stays true to their more mainstream roots with fast paced tracks such as "Damaged Goods" and "Bury your Flame." La Dispute does keep listeners on their ears, though, with each song slowing and speeding up at will. Boring they are not.

Written by: Chrissie Thornburg, February 25th 2009
Tags: emo, hardcore