Narratives in music play the greatest, most subtle role in lyricism; such an aesthetic that interprets a record as a story. So long as this element is brought into an aura similar to that of its audible and melodic counterpart, all shall result in an astonishing new journey for the listener. This here is a known, and well-endowed trait composed by Michigan’s very own La Dispute, who have returned for their first studio record in five years: ‘Panorama,’ where we follow the spoken word-hardcore quintet into a more distinctive story based on vocalist Jordan Dreyer’s most recent, and personal occurrences in his life.
The record, of course, stems as a conceptual piece, and La Dispute maintain what they had brought to life in the production of 2014’s ‘Rooms of the House,’ which also harvested a series of concise, varied, and subdued alterations of rock music that emphasised all of the thought-provoking verses on the LP. One of the most remarkable feats is that while the band execute a plethora of catchy, and somewhat heavy segments to ‘Panorama,’ the most aggressive and aesthetic components lie in Dreyer’s lyricism. Such integral elements of the record can be likened to the band’s debut ‘Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair,’ for Dreyer’s dialogue talks more about his experience with his girlfriend around their hometown in the Grand Rapids. Dreyer embarks in this album as a poet while he sensationalises his delivery with sparks of mystery and curiosity. Simultaneously, he commits to the realisation of his surroundings that take place in his verses, and not only speaks of what he knows, but what he is also prepared to face as the future comes closer to him.
La Dispute also commit to a very melancholic, Blues-inspired tone with tracks such as There You are Hiding Place, and the Fulton Street pieces, which all resonate to a perspective akin to the likes Tom Waits. Anxiety Panorama and View From our Bedroom Window meanwhile are probably the heaviest pieces of the album—but they also indulge in the boundaries and realism of modern day indie rock.
Dreyer’s spoken word approach in the track In Northern Michigan becomes the primary element in this particular song, where his reminiscence of his hometown and people he formerly knew became more apparent to him over some dark, mellow basslines and low-mixed percussion. The band execute what serves as the perfect ending to ‘Panorama’ with You Ascendant, where Dreyer finalises the story with him looking at what hopes to be a happier future for him and his partner—where what starts as calm, eventually builds up into a storm of inquisitiveness.
To diagnose it further, ‘Panorama’ speaks more as a collection of poems with musical anecdotes that accentuate the emotions much further. The narrative is poignant, but in a positive way as it obviously serves as catharsis—a contagious one for listeners that perhaps relate to each of the lyrics in their own metaphorical perspective. That’s one of the beauties that shapes in La Dispute’s music, and the group continue to do so with ease all the way through ‘Panorama.’ Whether you’ve been a longtime fan, or are constantly enticed by the idealisation of concept records that revolve around one’s attempt of soul-searching, ‘Panorama’ is that very album that can satiate those that love some provocative wordplay and narration.
La Dispute’s ‘Panorama’ is released March 22nd. Pre-order it from Bandcamp HERE!