A Lot Like Birds – No Place

written by: November 4, 2013
Album-art-for-No-Place-by-A-Lot-Like-Birds Release Date: October 29, 2013


Post-hardcore heavyweight A Lot Like Birds has seen its share of changes during its time in the industry, none of which have been very positive. Following its debut LP Plan B—an experimental masterpiece that set an unbelievably high bar for the genre—A Lot Like Birds drastically plummeted, becoming a generic screamo band fading into the rest of tired scene.

This is largely due to the addition of Kurt Travis, formerly the lead singer of Dance Gavin Dance, which prompted the band to shift its focus away from stellar instrumentals to Travis’ unimpressive voice and lyrics. While this gained A Lot Like Birds heaps of popularity, it killed one of the most original acts in recent years.

While A Lot Like Birds is still one of the best bands in the screamo/post-hardcore scene, as it proves with its most recent effort No Place, it falls so short from its initial release that it can hardly be considered the same band.

All of that said, A Lot Like Birds is still where fans of post-hardcore screamo should direct their attention, as the band is still innovative and interesting musically, and Cory Lockwood still kills it as a screamer even though he’s changed a bit, too.

The group seems to have taken a lot of influence from older bands in the genre, namely The Mars Volta, whom it closely mimics on chaotic tracks like “Connector” and “Next to Ungodliness,” while still maintaining a somewhat original sound.

The highlights of No Place are actually the calmer, more instrumentally-focused tracks that feature Travis’s poetry. They’re a breath of fresh air between the insanity found on the rest of the album.

“Myth of Lasting Sympathy” and “No Nurture” still have the innate epicness A Lot Like Birds carries, but stand out amid the heavier, fast-paced songs. This balance of creating novelty within a signature sound takes some serious skill, but A Lot Like Birds proves it is still capable of writing music that isn’t viciously puked out, unlike most bands in the genre.

Original members Michael Franzino, who plays guitar and used to be the lead vocalist,  guitarist Ben Waicek, bassist Michael Littlefield, and drummer Joseph Arrington still shine in their unpredictable skips and shifts in the music. They’re still masters of mind-fuckery, which is one of the best things to come from this release. You never know what’s coming, and that’s a beautiful thing.

“Recluse” is especially gifted in this department, abruptly switching from the incomprehensible intro to the twitchy transition, followed by a powerful screaming section, a groovy breakdown, a trumpet section, and all the way around again.

“Shaking of the Frame” is a fitting, monumental end to No Place. It has its share of catchy timing fluctuations and breakdowns, as well as a nice trumpet section reminiscent of Plan B. Lockwood goes crazy toward the end with his signature screaming, bringing the album to a satisfying close.

Travis also does a much better of a job of blending in on this record, establishing himself as a true band member who doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, as he did on 2011’s Conversation Piece. With this release, A Lot Like Birds seems headed in the right direction—back to its roots. Still, the cool movie samples and insane saxophone are dearly missed and should be revisited with the band’s next release.

A Lot Like Birds brings hope for a more creative screamo scene. Sadly, the band has courted popularity by resorting to the muddled, repetitive music currently choking the genre, but No Place shows signs of reverting to its former greatness.

A Lot Like Birds – No Place tracklist:

  1. “In Trances”
  2. “No Nature”
  3. “No Nurture”
  4. “Next to Ungodliness”
  5. “Connector”
  6. “Myth of Lasting Sympathy”
  7. “Hand Over Mouth Over and Over”
  8. “Kuroi Ledge”
  9. “Recluse”
  10. “Shaking of the Frame”