For the most part, the music reviews I’ve written in the past were made with the feeling that the artist or album would be easy to get into, that’s not the case with La Dispute. The band formed in 2004 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with founding member and vocalist Jordan Dreyer being the front man.
La Dispute is indisputably my favorite band, and for good reason. No other band I’ve heard has been able to deliver such powerful lyrics – essentially spoken word poetry – given with a mixture of clean and rough vocals and progressive post-hardcore instrumentals. When it comes to technical skill and ability, La Dispute exudes talent in excess.
“Wildlife” is their second studio album among a discography of three albums and twelve EPs. With each album assuming a different theme and style, “Wildlife” is a collection of fictional short stories in song form. The stories center primarily around the band’s hometown, Grand Rapids, and deal with subjects like anger, grief, and loss.
Now, with all this praise, one might be wondering why I said La Dispute is not for everyone. The biggest “issue” is Jordan Dreyer’s vocals. To me, they’re incredible. His voice is as raw as it gets, and it fits the lyrics perfectly. The way his voice breaks as he yells, in contrast with how clean his voice sounds when he speaks, makes for an excellent blend of emotions that come across with no issue.
But to others, Dreyer’s vocals are nothing short of grating. The voice breaks and the shouting get on a few people’s nerves, my girlfriend and roommate included. But in the song “King Park,” which is a short story about a drive-by gang shooting that results in the death of a child (heavy stuff, I know), Dreyer’s vocals as he screams “Can I still get into Heaven if I kill myself?” are spine-chilling.
There’s a reason I plan to tattoo La Dispute’s logo on my body. This band is incomparable, and they set a standard for poetic, emotional, post-hardcore that no one else can meet. If you can get past the vocals and learn to love them, then do yourself a favor and listen to this band. All of their albums and their first EP are all available for streaming on Spotify or through Apple Music.