Album Review: Koji/La Dispute – “Never Come Undone” split

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Splits are really interesting.

Though I’m not a fan of the length of most splits, I truly enjoy when a split between two or more acts is done right. It’s like a young couple in love; if the chemistry is there together they  can create something beautiful. I’ve always thought a split (and any album for that matter) should be very cohesive and aware of itself. Personally, no matter how good one or two of the acts on a release are, a split’s true strength lies in how the bands make their songs work together, and not in the individual songs (though it’s an added bonus if the songs also rule). I’m pretty sure that the dudes in La Dispute and the one man band Koji agree with me if their split endeavor Never Come Undone is any indication.

The short EP kicks off with Koji’s two songs, both of which are beautifully arranged acoustic ditties that tug at the heart strings. “Peacemaker” is a pluckier and twinklier number that has Koji’s voice guide the song while the instruments create a lush soundscape for the words to prance through. Though I’m not totally familiar with Koji’s entire catalog, I think it’s safe to say that “Peacemaker” is not a typical Koji song and has the songwriter experimenting a bit with instrumentation and tempo; something that I found very appropriate to for this release. The song is followed by “Biomusicology”, which is far more standard Koji fare but nonetheless effective. Though poppier in nature, somewhere between the tasteful inclusion of a string section and the comely outro “Biomusicology” showcases all the things that make Koji one of the better singer-songwriters of our time. His attention to melody, detail and lyrical delivery is ever present throughout it’s nearly 6 minute duration which keeps the song from becoming stale as many acoustic songs tend to.

On the other side of the split we’ve got post-hardcore act La Dispute. This is where that chemistry I was talking about in the introduction comes into play. Though not generally the most chaotic band on the scene, La Dispute aren’t necessarily a quiet band and I was intrigued  to see how they would compliment Koji’s quieter numbers. Their side of the split opens up with “Sunday Morning, At A Funeral”  which finds similarities to Koji’s “Peacemaker” in the way that it is vocalist Jordan Dreyer’s voice that carries the song while the instruments calmly play behind his melancholy poetry. The track is a simple, bluesy arrangement that I find is very similar to “Andria” and “Nobody, Not Even The Rain” from their previous full-length. Even when he’s not screaming, Dreyer’s almost beat-poetry like delivery is full of emotion as he tells his sad tale while the instrument section accentuates the song in all the right spots. Definitely not exactly what I expected from La Dispute, but I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively calm song. The band follows with “Last Blues”, an acoustic rendition of their song “Last Blues For Bloody Knuckles” also from their previous full-length. Again Dreyer gives his throat some rest and limits himself to his beat-poetic delivery, which works very elegantly with the band’s acoustic choice. The song’s original desperate tone is still incredibly present and it’s safe to say that nothing was lost in the translation. Perhaps the acoustic version is a bit more defeated in nature than it’s full-band counterpart, but when it comes to a song about a failed marriage, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Honestly I have nothing bad to say about this split. It’s everything it wants to be and needs to be. Four elegant songs that work exceptionally well together despite the genre differences. A highly recommended split for fans of either band as I’m sure if you enjoy at least one of these acts you’ll find some reward in the other’s part as well.



2 Comments

  1. XMiXKsX5/17/2011 5:47 AM | Permalink

    To the reviewer: Have you ever heard of Ted Leo? ;)

  2. ArtieKGB7/13/2012 11:19 AM | Permalink

    Biomusicology says nothing about KOJI’s songwriting, because it was written by Ted Leo.

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