REVIEW: A Lot Like Birds – ‘No Place’

A Lot Like Birds Feature

Artist: A Lot Like Birds
Album: No Place
Genre: Post-hardcore
Label: Equal Vision Records

Among the several post-hardcore albums to have been released over the past couple of years, A Lot Like Birds sure did make their mark when they released their 2011 Doghouse Records debut, Conversation Piece. More than simply being just another album that earned praise and appreciation across the board, it helped show that it’s still very possible for a post-hardcore band to remain unique and original in an oversaturated genre. Two years past all of that, the band’s had their fair share of experiences where they’ve toured with the likes of I The Mighty, Dance Gavin Dance, From Indian Lakes, and HRVRD, and as of now, the release of their third studio release, No Place.

If there’s one thing that I personally took from listening to their prior work, it was that ALLB’s sound is literally all over the place musically, and unlike what some others have attempted: it actually works. Take a look at the first full track on the album, “No Nature,” and how the few atmospheric yet frenetic clean runs work in a ying-yang fashion with the intense parts of the song, resulting in a song that keeps ears glued from beginning to end. Other songs where this complex songwriting shines through on the album include “Connector,” which runs its course from a quiet opening into a full-blown rager pretty quickly, and “Kuroi Ledge,” which relies heavily on effect-smothered cleans, scattered guitars, bells, and screams.

The vocal duo that is Kurt Travis and Cory Lockwood certainly deserves much of the positive reception that’s directed their way. In lieu of trading entire verses, the two will oftentimes trade lines – whether these are screamed, yelled (yes, there’s a difference), sung, and spoken- to make for a unique experience that tosses your attention around in the midst of the rest of the chaos in the song.

I will say that there are several points on the record that have made me want to rewind and replay entire sections for the sake of getting a better grasp of the complexities. Whereas some people would think of this as a bad thing because of the need to have to go into it multiple times, as a musician and a listener who wants more from the whole experience, it’s things like this that make it all the more rewarding.

One specific moment that’s worth pointing out would be where the interlude “Myth Of Lasting Sympathy” comes around and the flow of the album takes an interesting turn. Whereas the other 8/10 of the album is packed with longer songs that have track times averaging above five minutes, this song comes in at a perfect moment to prepare the listener for what’s to come, and this is also the song that includes one of the most unsettling and thought-provoking couple of lines on the album: “…And you stare back at me through the closet and into the world that I never really changed, and ask me the only thing you want to know: ‘when we grow up, do we still get scared when the lights go out'”?

By no means would I consider No Place to be an easy listen, and that isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s surely a grower; but with every repeated listen, the entire experience will become better and better as more instrumental nuances are recognized. There are little to no pop leanings, but what can be found here are complex instrumentals, harsh-yet-fitting raw vocals, one of the most unique album concepts, and most importantly, variety.

If Conversation Piece served as the vehicle to propel this Sacramento group into the public eye, No Place will go down in the books as the album that helped show that despite being three albums into their career, A Lot Like Birds are all but creatively exhausted.

Rating: 9/10
Reviewed by: Adrian Garza (Follow him on Twitter)

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  • Steve

    One of the best post-hardcore releases of the last few years. Not for the easy-going listener, but an immensely rewarding experience.

  • Arham

    This is one of the reviews I feel actually captured the album more accurately. I believe it’s a 10/10 but I like the words you put. Especially the penultimate paragraph. It’s so true.