By Siddharth Jejurikar
La Dispute has been pushing the boundaries of experimental rock since the mid-2000s and is continuing its trail-blazing path on its fourth LP, Panorama. The Michigan-Natives, drawing their band’s name from Pierre de Marivaux’s 18th century comedy La Dispute, stands as one of the most unique projects under the umbrella of post-hardcore. With their new album, they continue to live up to this lofty title.
Released in late March 2019, Panorama will remind fans of the band’s remarkable dynamism when it comes to arrangements as well as Dreyer’s famously heart-wrenching writing. Like much of La Dispute’s previous work, including their first album Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, the new LP struggles to be easily characterized. Though it certainly fits into the broad mold of contemporary punk, it is set apart by Dreyer’s famous spoken-word and poetic vocals. These vocals meld into instrumentals with the level of patience one would expect more from a Post-Rock or Shoegaze outfit like Have A Nice Life. This patience leads into massive payoffs when the arrangement bursts with core-shaking energy on tracks like “ANXIETY PANORAMA.”
The album’s name is a play on its most central motif: the long car ride. Taken broadly, the frequently evoked imagery of landmarks, trails, cars, paths, and highways—most easily seen in the LP’s anchoring tracks “FULTON STREET I” and “FULTON STREET II”—stand for motion. These external transitions cause or reflect internal transitions sparked by grief, loss, love, and the like. Like a traveler’s mind meandering from thought to thought, the lyrics tend to wander; taking in things in full panorama rather than with a microscope. This wandering couples well with the sheer sonic range of La Dispute. Bringing this album alive on stage is clearly not a process that could ever be static or stale in nature—come see for yourself at the Royale this Friday, April 19th!