ALBUM REVIEW: La Dispute – Panorama

Release Date: March 22nd 2019
Label: Epitaph Records


La Dispute have always been polarising in their fearless pursuit of pushing post-hardcore past its boundaries. With the release of fourth album ‘Panorama’, the quintet look to divide their core audience by taking cues from the lighter material that was explored on 2014’s ‘Rooms Of The House’.

Influenced by vocalist Jordan Dreyer‘s commute across Michigan with his partner to where they grew up, the record takes on a multitude of topics across its just over forty minute runtime.

Opening the record are three tracks that melt into one another, ‘Rose Quartz’ and the aptly titled ‘Fulton Street I’ and ‘Fulton Street II’. Beginning with shimmering tones and delicate percussion, the former of the three carves out a subtle motif that indicates the intimacy that is to be displayed throughout the record to follow.

Industrial overtones burn alongside minor chords as ‘Fulton Street I’ begins its journey through tentative chords and spoken word passages towards thick distortion and screamed stanzas. A lyrically driven track, Dreyer works with patterns and repetition to maintain its hypnotic hold. As the group’s display of restraint comes to an end, the burning motif from ‘Rose Quartz’ drags ‘Fulton Street II’ to the forefront.

Twisting melodies lock in with gritty bass lines that foreshadow the intensity of the track, and, whilst the verse may hold a foundation of clean chords, Dreyer‘s unique vocals deliver a violent undercurrent to open melodies on display.

An evolving composition, the track sees bassist Adam Vass dominate over cutting guitars before allowing finger picked melodies to take over. Building on the energy provided by Brad Vander Lugt‘s hammering drum patterns, ‘Fulton Street II’ ascends into raw vocals and pummelling guitar chords before its abrupt end.

As the record continues, strong elements of shoegaze are fused with hardcore characteristics, as shown with Chad Sterenberg‘s weaving lead lines on ‘Rhodonite And Grief’, whereas Corey Stroffolino takes a claustrophobic approach to chord patterns on following track, ‘Anxiety Panorama’.

‘Footsteps At The Pond’, a deeper cut in the record, manages to not only be a musically dense track, but possibly one of the group’s most accessible too. Running through irregular drum patterns, winding bass lines, and punctuated vocals, it manages to both roar and whimper at the same time.

Ending with ‘You Ascendant’, the quintet deliver an intimate and sobering take on mortality. Taking its time, the track unfolds the soundscape of the record as elements lean into one another, creating a balanced and satisfying close.

With ‘Panorama’, not only have La Dispute created a strong and nuanced record, but by refining their strengths they have also pushed their niche above their peers.