La Dispute – Panorama (Album Review)

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From their debut “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River…”, or their follow up smash “Wildlife” or their harmonious “Rooms of the House”, La Dispute has not shied away from emotion, and truthfully allowing it to be the forefront of their sound and storytelling. It’s been five years since hearing from the Michigan fellas, and fans have been itching at the bit for new music. “Panorama” was not only worth it but allowed the quintet to create something that feels familiar and fresh bundled perfectly together.

In previous albums, it feels as if the band have been flies on the walls give us the stories they experienced. With “Panorama”, Dreyer takes the pen to himself giving stories first hand from his life. In interviews Dreyer has said many of the tracks are influenced by moments in his life. Dreyer’s lyrics are always a massive point of interest when it comes to la dispute, with melodic rock backing him up, the stories he tells are brilliantly done. With “Panorama” vocals are a little more difficult to make out and the band’s sound takes a leap forward in terms of being a focal point. Now this being said, Dreyer’s vocals still carry a significant amount of weight and relevance, carrying a story that the band has had throughout allowing more pauses and calmness compared to previous records where aggression was a major emotional component. “Fulton Street I” comes across like a conversation you hear someone having themselves in the midst of a separation, with lines like “Will I ever be half what I can be? Can I ever be half what I can be? If you needed me to be anything. Could I even be half of what you need?” there’s something honest and relatable to each verse and chorus. It’s hard not to sit in the song and examine yourself in the same Dreyer does within the minutes of each track. As listeners there was also a fly on the wall mentality and listening to La Dispute, watching events take place and examining, whereas now the light is turned onto us as listeners, and examining our decisions and life.

That notion flows through the album as a major component and takes a strong hold. On “Anxiety Panorama” the opening lines kick you in the gut in a way that reveals so much and depth in self-examination. “You pray for distance, I never change, Buried it behind the brightness, You plead for distance, I never change, Buried in behind the brightness, Spill like poison in you, My palm against you, Your ever-anxious days” and “I felt afraid and ashamed, That I felt anything at all” leave you startled and breathless as if someone is in your head and voicing your thoughts. “View From Our Bedroom Window” causes a similar reaction with “I faced my failure, in a way I escaped it. In the crumble before a breakdown takes… I faced my own pain, in a way I embraced it. In the bedroom with the door locked tight” gripping you and not letting go.

“You Ascendant” plays with heavy subject matter as a closing track. Much of the track, the longest on the album ebbs and flows as only La Dispute can make happen. Instrumentally calm, and Dreyer’s vocals growing with emotion, the track carries a message of feeling alone and death, and how even though it seems like the loneliest place, you aren’t alone in feeling alone. The last verse hits the hardest. “How will we leave? …. Can it be quietly? Like in the morning drinking coffee with the sunrise. Through the lilies in the window of our bedroom to the garden. Or just drift off watching TV. 6:30 in the evening. Never see it coming at all. Or can we live forever here. Be buried in our best memories … Road trip east of Denver maybe … Life too beautiful too sweet despite everything. Could we choose to stay forever there and never leave?” Closing an album with such a lengthy track and full of emotion is exactly what we expect from the band, and they upped it with “You Ascendant” creating a track worth listening to over and over.

“Panorama” is balanced and collected in an elegant way, flowing with light instrumentals to heavy in the blink of an eye. La Dispute took their time between records, and it shows with such well-crafted tracks and have made an album that is perfectly cohesive.

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