Best Songs: Such Small Hands, Andria, Nobody Not Even the Rain
La Dispute is a fascinatingly talented band. I’ve never heard anything quite like them before. They incorporate a mix of indie rock, punk, blues, hardcore, progressive rock, and soft acoustics. These musical elements are incorporated with intense vocals that range from spoken word, screaming, singing, and shouting, making the listening experience all the more emotional as it fluctuates with the progressing story of the song. The vocals sound like a confession, a reflection, or a personal journal. Jordan Dreyer, vocalist and primary lyricist, comments on their eclectic variety of genres apparent in their music and vocals, saying “I think boxing art into categories only serves as a way to exclude people from exploring different variations of the same thing. I think the only real definition between artists exists in their intentions for creating art.” He approaches lyrical writing in a story-telling manner by creating different stories and characters, drawing influence from writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Hemingway, Joan Didion, and Kurt Vonnegut. I saw them live for the first time after being a major fan for many years, and the band members seemed as genuine and honest as their music. Jordan awkwardly two-stepped and spun in circles around the stage while singing, somehow not getting tangled in the mic chord, and gave heart-warming speeches between songs on togetherness, personal struggles, and finding hope in yourself and others. They poured their heart and souls into the stage and the crowd, as they do in every recorded song, and was easily one of the most intimate live performances I’ve witnessed.
Their first album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, is a testament to their profound musical talent, stylistic range, and lyrical capability. Each album follows a story that progresses from start to finish. Somewhere at the Bottom of the River seems to focus on a long-term marriage that falls victim to infidelity, hatred, guilt, and neglected vows as they reflect on their sworn love and the life they built together. The album opens with Such Small Hands, introducing the unbridled anger and darkness caused by lost love and the subsequent demons that once lay dormant, a common theme throughout the album. Damaged Goods, Bury Your Flame, and Said the King to the River capture feverish hysteria with upbeat drums and guitar paired with quickly sung vocals that change. These songs portray the immense frenzy of convoluted emotions as his world and relationship quickly spirals out of control. One of the most popular songs off the album, Andria, details the story of the beginning of their love and the chaos that soon followed. My personal favorite song off the album Last Lost Continent, is a twelve-minute story of removing the blame from either partner and recognizing infidelity as the monster it is as it invades and disrupts families, love, and lives. The protagonist seems to find forgiveness, admitting to his selfishness and the undying love he holds for his partner, family, and friends. The lyrics for this song are breathtaking, beautiful, and complex, and perfectly showcase the emotional process of life and love. They played this song when I saw them live in November 2019 during their Panorama U.S tour and it was everything I dreamed it would be. I may or may not have cried. The emotionally chaotic album ends with the gentle song Nobody, Not Even the Rain. The protagonist reflects on the sacred, treasured details of their love despite the pain they have suffered. This is one of my top five albums of all time, and I believe La Dispute offers something for everyone.