Yesterday I had the opportunity to ‘meet’ something really special; the new, otherworldly release from La Dispute – Rose Quartz / Fulton Street I. The pair of tracks (released via Epitaph) are the first two songs from the Michigan band’s just-announced upcoming fourth album, Panorama. With absolute zero familiarity with this band, I arrive fresh and fully attentive now, based on my experience with this duo of songs.
Like its pink hued crystalline namesake, “Rose Quartz” offers radiance, lightness, and love, with softened edges. This stone of love seems brought to sonic life in the 1:05 instrumental track, and I’m struck with curiosity as to the band’s experiences with the crystal itself which might have inspired what we’re hearing.
As we flow directly into “Fulton Street I”, it’s a return to reality out of that sparkling and lightness existence, with low hum and rumbles rhythmically pulling us into the present world. Combined with guitar whose voice says ‘concern’, it’s an unsettling introduction in comparison to the ease we’d been floating in just before.
There’s nothing more real than death, which is lyrically/vocally introduced to us, with subtle heaviness. As the song progresses and grows, mildly at first, we hear of forgotten bodies found, sparking contemplation of our modern lives which may have us lose touch, keep secrets, lose people, grieve, and love.
“Will I ever put flowers by the street?”
Bursting out in ache, roadside memorials witnessed plunge the protagonist into confronting thoughts of their own response to losing someone to an accident. Instrumentally expanded outward, we become surrounded and immersed in these dark questions, of what we’d do when tapped on the shoulder by grief. Military-esque drum rhythms add to the existing unsettling feeling, and pull further into something heavy with doom.
Breaking into a new train of thought, seemingly turning thoughts and curiosity toward a loved one, sweetness of guitar melody couples with exploring bass and teeth-clenching wonderments of enoughness and identity. The slow build of this measured sharing is wordlessly gripping, and with each enunciated question we’re there, heart-in-throat, and pulled toward something that promises to be inevitably bad.
Whether plunged deeply and darkly into a ‘what if’ fantasy of catastrophe, or detailing with precision what legitimately occurred, the seconds-frozen-in-time capture of collision is emotive to the extreme. Vocal desperation marries with this progressive climb and every beat, bar, strum, syllable is inflicted upon the listener.
“And I saw hands reach, car lurched across the center line
I saw it all in my dreams”
These first two songs from Panorama and the experience of them as a listener forms a heart-wrenching journey of loving and supporting, with the hot breath of death on the back of one’s neck. It’s adoring someone, while knowing they could be lost at any moment and wondering what that might look like. What we might look like as someone grieving. Whether we love enough while alive.
This is a significant introduction of more to come, and with Panorama‘s tracklisting containing “RHODONITE AND GRIEF” it sparks even more questions in me as to La Dispute’s exploration of emotions coupled with crystals. As does their vinyl varieties of “Amethyst Swirl”, “Pink Tourmaline”, “Black Tourmaline”.
Because of being new to the band – and their discography and their subject matter – a Google search had me come across merch that directly involves crystals and emotions. A book of three tabletop roleplaying games involving crystals that came about during the writing of Panorama: “designed to help you and your friends tell emotionally charged evocative stories based on sets of particular principles of various crystals. They were designed during the writing of the album Panorama by La Dispute as collaborative thought experiments that would help us explore prospective musical and lyrical themes from the record in a safe and fun way. “
To say I’m fascinated would be an understatement. It is beyond nice to ‘meet’ you, La Dispute. I look forward to getting to know you via your set at Good Things Festival!
If the songs themselves aren’t moving and beautiful enough, the stunningly animated music video animated by Sarah Schmidt is icing on the cake. Watch below, and pre-order Panorama (releases March 22nd) via https://www.ladispute.org/