Although the predicted comparisons with post-hardcore kin Dance Gavin Dance hang somewhat flimsily over each A Lot Like Birds release (clean vocalist Kurt Travis performed a stint with DGD from 2007 til 2010), ‘No Place’, the band’s third full-length, confirms them to be a decidedly more involved affair. Expanding on the blueprint of sophomore ‘Conversation Piece’, the Sacramento sextet deliver a borderline overbearing whirlwind of kinetic aggression and fluctuating progressivisms which are as intriguing as they are congested.
Marrying styles with a degree of deftness rarely seen, the sheer breadth of ideas here is without doubt a marvel. From poetically fervent spoken word pieces (‘Myth Of Lasting Sympathy’), tribalistic percussion (‘No Nature’) and an almost mathcore disjointedness (‘Next To Ungodliness’), the no stone unturned approach sees the record a veritable feast of rewards, off kilter melodies and spin on a dime song structures hitting with startling regularity. There’s a definite The Mars Volta flavour to be had, chaotic warbling and Latin shuffle strained through a filter of dizzying time signatures and thrilling atmospherics.
Indeed, for all the plaudits that could be leveled at A Lot Like Birds for their relentless experimentation, this could also be where perhaps ‘No Place’‘s most debilitating flaw is held. At first glance, the instrumental torrent and unabridged urgency we’re met with can come across as not only impregnable, but down right exhausting. Yet, those with the willingness to put in the time witness the reveal of these song which are not only richly fruitful but carry a bleak sentimentality and, somewhat surprisingly, a starkly human quality which bleeds through the turbulence.
‘No Place’ may be all too much like hard work for many, yet the fact remains that A Lot Like Birds are undoubtedly worth the effort. Ambitious to a T, it’s not often an outfit as flat out dissonant and lawless are able to retain that certain organic tilt needed for us to latch onto. Given the time to decipher and process, ‘No Place’ cements itself as a record to be celebrated.
Written by Tony Bliss