After four long years of waiting A Lot Like Birds have finally released new material. On March 22nd, ALLB released the first single off the upcoming album called, “For Shelley (Unheard)”. Their upcoming album, titled “DIVISI”, will be released on May 5th on Equal Vision Records and will be their fourth full length album and the follow up to the successful release, 2013’s “No Place”.
For those who might not follow the band that frequently, you might have missed the significance behind this upcoming record. This will be the first ALLB record without Kurt Travis since 2009’s “Plan B” and will feature Cory Lockwood as the main vocalist with bassist Matt Coate adding some additional vocal performances. Apparently, in the time between “No Place” and “DIVISI” Kurt Travis and the rest of ALLB had creative differences in how they would approach future releases under the moniker, A Lot Like Birds, and because of this, Kurt Travis ended up departing the band and the rest of the group pursued a less hardcore-influenced sound with Cory expanding on his vocal performance by switching from harsh vocals to “clean singing” vocals that required vocal lessons. As a result, the first song as a product of this new direction has been released as “For Shelley (Unheard)”.
The success of this record for ALLB is crucial. Not only is leaving behind one of the most prominent members of their band be a huge transition for fans, but abandoning their old influences to pursue a new, evolved sound is also be a risky path to pursue. A Lot Like Birds have to present the best material they possible can as one unit to successfully pull this off, or else they could face the possibility of losing almost all of their fan base. Luckily, this transition has created some of the best and most memorable material I’ve heard from them in their existence. Personally, I am not a huge A Lot Like Birds fan, but I can definitely appreciate their material and influence in the post hardcore scene. Not to mention that their debut full length, “Plan B”, is a catchy, experimental album that is highly underrated. However, “Conversation Piece” and “No Place”, while they are good, don’t really have any memorable moments and I personally found it hard to really enjoy the releases, which could explain why the group has had such a hard time in growing in significance compared to other notable experimental post-hardcore groups like Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas, Hail the Sun, or even Slaves. A Lot Like Birds truly needed a song like “For Shelley (Unheard)” to boost them back into significance and keep their status as one of the notable modern post-hardcore acts.
“For Shelley (Unheard)” is the most heart-wrenching, yet beautiful song you will hear all year. An eerie rhythm guitar plays a few heavily distorted chords before a prominent, high pitched lead guitar pierces into the track crying with one of the catchy, bittersweet melodies that you will hear throughout the song. From the moment Cory begins singing it is clear that his work on his vocal performance has produced great results and his new role in ALLB is nothing short of perfect. If you read the description of the song you will see a tear-jerking, heartfelt letter from Cory himself explaining the meaning of the track and how his mom was the most important figure in his life and why he has dedicated this song to the superhuman mother that she was to him. Knowing this background, you can literally hear the pain in Cory’s voice and stellar lyricism, and it’s shocking to say the least that Cory himself was still able to hit these high notes perfectly despite the fact that powerful emotions and memories were engulfing him during this point in his life. The song structure goes between a verse that without fail builds up to the chorus every time it is heard. The only thing I wish this song had was an anthemic section after the calm bridge. I personally believe an emotion driven anthemic part would only intensify the raw emotion and musicianship heard from every member on this track, resulting in a practically flawless first single. However, even without this, “For Shelley (Unheard)” is the single that A Lot Like Birds desperately needed in order to make “DIVISI” as important as it should be.
“DIVISI” will be a pivotal moment for ALLB. Sure they will lose a lot of fans (as you can tell from the comment section on any other their recent videos, including the music video for “For Shelley (Unheard)”) due to the fact that their sound has drastically evolved to something a little closer to guitarist Michael Franzino’s project, alone., and they will also lose fans due to the fact that Kurt Travis is no longer apart of ALLB, but they will also gain a new era of fans as they go forward with this evolution of A Lot Like Birds. The success and history of this Sacramento based group will be analyzed in two sections: before “DIVISI” and after “DIVISI”, with the post-“DIVISI” era, in my opinion, becoming the far more successful and influential era that puts ALLB into the spotlight in their respective scene. The new sound exemplified so far will clearly fit them well, whether their older fans agree or not, and I guarantee this monumental transition will bring positive change for ALLB for years to come.
“For Shelley (Unheard)” is already an instant classic for A Lot Like Birds, but there is one song I absolutely cannot wait to hear. The teaser below, which feature Cory recording the vocals for a pre-chorus and chorus of a song on “DIVISI” is addicting to say the least. His powerful delivery, which becomes a borderline yell before the instrumental parts fade in, is captivating to say the least and makes me dying to hear the rest of this track. As of right now I have no idea what the title of this song is, or if it will also be a single, but I can guarantee that it will be one of the greatest songs off of “DIVISI” and will be the Track of the Day Tuesday for sure!
In a little over a month, the most pivotal moment of ALLB’s career, the release of “DIVISI” on May 5th, 2017, will occur and their footprint in the post hardcore scene will not be the same. In my opinion this new album will be A Lot Like Birds’ “Downtown Battle Mountain”, their “Saosin”, even their “On Letting Go”, and if you sleep on this record you will seriously be missing out. Myself and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews will keep you posted with updates as we get closer to the release date, so stay tuned for more news about ALLB! Also, check out the first single, “For Shelley (Unheard)”, below and while you’re on the site, see what other albums we’ve reviewed and what news stories you need to hear as well!
“For Shelley (Unheard)”: