Published Mar 20, 2019La Dispute have done a lot of maturing since mesmerizing Tumblrites with the anthemic woes of "Such Small Hands" in 2008. Over the years, they've climbed the ranks of the post-hardcore world and they now comfortably occupy the upper echelons of the genre. At some point, most bands realize that less is more; this is likely the case for La Dispute.
The stillness to the band's fourth studio album, Panorama, seems like an inevitable step in their evolution. The tone is like the band are continuously marching through the most barren of landscapes, or perhaps, northern Michigan in the dead of winter. Generally, distortion is rolled back; the energy, paced. Jordan Dreyer's frenetic outbursts aren't as frequent as you'd expect either, though when those moments erupt, it's a wonderful reminder of why the Grand Rapids quintet are so cherished.
Occasionally, the instrumentation on Panorama is fractured — in need of repair that only climaxes of epic proportion can mend. The disjointed verses in "Rhodonite & Grief," for example, are a stark contrast to the grand togetherness of the track's crescendoing bridge, where fluttering horns and tambourine stack atop marching snares. This, along with "There You Are (Hiding Place)," in particular, are evocative of Brother, Sister-era MeWithoutYou.
Then there's the excellent "Anxiety Panorama," which delivers trademark La Dispute finesse — rim hits, galloping choruses, a crafty breakdown foreshadowed by half-tempo verses, and of course, the super rhythmic flow of Jordan Dreyer's spoken word, an homage to the younger versions of themselves.
To mature within the confines of emo music — a genre that favours youthful intuition — is no easy feat. But those who have remained fans of La Dispute as a band, rather than their singular bodies of work, will be pleased to find that growing up doesn't always mean abandoning your past. La Dispute are more or less doing what they've always done. They're just continuing the refining process, whatever that is, for better or worse. (Epitaph)