DIVISI is the fourth album by post-hardcore band A Lot Like Birds. This Sacramento outfit, known previously for exploring the extremes of the genre, seems to have found a more unified sound for their latest record. In this new approach listeners, can find plenty of the atmosphere that ALLB is known for, packed within tighter song structures and a more melodic setting.
Let’s get this out of the way, there is no screaming on this album. In the absence of vocalist Kurt Travis, the band’s screamer Cory Lockwood has stepped up to the plate. Lockwood’s performance is one of the most captivating parts of DIVISI. The vocals all sit within the same range throughout, but an emotional weight reveals itself each time his voice fries. The listener can discern a level of stoic severity in his lyrics. On the first track, Lockwood croons, “don’t we all arrive where we began,” and it really sets the mood. Most of the album’s themes revolve around loss of family, loved ones and self.
Lockwood isn’t the only one bringing the drive. This album could not have happened without bassist Matt Coate. Most of the album’s tone exists in the ethereal realm. There are a lot of chorus effects, with a preference toward nuance over riffs. In order to pull that off Coate, who also provides backup vocals, fills up the space with a constant driving low end. Songs like “No Attention for Solved Puzzles” have him moving the song along, while “Further Below” has him providing much needed syncopation.
Despite stand out moments, there is a degree of sameness that plagues this record. Much like Lockwood’s performance, there’s a level of monotony that, when compounded with good ‘ole post-hardcore melodrama, can make the album either hard to sit through, or over and done without a thought. Still, there’s enough difference between the execution of each chorus that any one really listening can find novelty in the experience.
To veer so far from one’s roots can be both frightening and confusing, but neither seem to affect A Lot Like Birds here. The album exudes a self-conscious confidence that at its best moments feel reminiscent of classic’s like Saosin’s self-titled. Although DIVISI marks a radical change to the A Lot Like Birds formula, it is a welcome edition to their growing catalog.
Post-hardcore | Equal Vision Records