Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: La Dispute/Koji - Never Come Undone

As strange as their pairing is, La Dispute and Koji have an incredible chemistry on their recently released split titled Never Come Undone. For every strained and powerful chord struck on the two tracks composed by La Dispute, there is a matching moment to be found on Koji's half of the record. La Dispute start it off with the story told by 'Sunday Morning, at a Funeral' which shows them at a less intense - but equally emotional - composition than what is seen on their previous releases. Lead man Jordan Dreyer holds a fragile tone over the equally breakable instrumentation to create a cold atmosphere layered thick with imagery which is all but second nature for the group. The contrast between this somber track and their immense full-length Somewhere... displays the group's ability to both maintain a certain atmosphere, but not necessarily adhere to a predetermined aesthetic. This remains true on the next track, an acoustic version of one of their earlier hardcore tracks, where they strip away the screams for a slow flowing rhythm to accentuate the emotion contained in the original. While not the most substantial addition to their library, La Dispute's portion of the split is fulfilling at best, if not only for the first track.

It is, however, Koji's appearance on this record that makes it worth its salt. Their first track, 'Peacemaker', is a slick and grooving song much akin to that of La Dispute's opener, except now it is Andrew Shiraki creating the shaken mood. He sings passionately over an array of instruments and hand claps to really pull the listener into what he has to say. The lyricism is poignant and affecting in such a way that when the chorus of people sing their "oh's and whoa's", you're inspired to sing along. Their second track is a cover of a fan favorite from Ted Leo's library and, once again, Shiraki's vocals steal the show as he passionately rises and falls with his group of instrumentations humming behind him. 

As a whole, it's almost easy to dismiss La Dispute's portion of the record, because Koji almost immediately one-ups them. However, La Dispute should not be easily overlooked. They fuel the fire that keeps this split worthy of their discography and allow Koji to build off of the substantial mood they establish. It's nothing that will be among fan's favorites, but with a catalog so fantastic to precede it, who honestly expected it? This split is the combination of two friends finding a common love for smooth and atmospheric music, and together they create both a fulfilling and touching collection of tracks. For two fantastic groups heading toward the crescendo of their careers, this split will keep respective fans occupied until they can rightfully blow you away in the future.

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