An experience more than an album, DIVISI sees A Lot Like Birds in a more experimental direction.
Setting the tone for the whole album, “Always Burning, Always Dark” creates a mysterious atmosphere that’s alluring and feels like the start to one of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Track three, titled “For Shelley (Unheard),” is an incredibly emotional song about Cory Lockwood’s (vocals) mother being in the hospital and losing her. Written poetically, the song opens talking about how when Lockwood was younger his mom said she’d protect him from “rocks” and “glass,” but as the song progresses, he recalls seeing his mom in the hospital “There were rocks in your back, There was glass in your hair.” The song covers the detrimental and heartbreaking feeling when the person who once took care of you, is now yours to take care of, but there’s nothing you can do but hold their hand and pretend to be strong. The next song, “Trace the Lines,” is about a toxic relationship that goes on too long, even as both parties want out. It starts off slow, incredibly somber, and with a beautiful string accompaniment, as it picks up over the course of the song. I love how the song grows both lyrically and melodically from being hurt to more angry, as Lockwood questions “Do you care that it’s over?” Later in the album, “The Smoother the Stone” is a spoken word transitional song, less than two minutes long, where the vocals feel faint, which matches the lyrics talking about a relationship that grows faint, the instrumentals are atmospheric tones with a beat. The song takes the listener into the second half of DIVISI. In “Good Soil, Bad Seeds” Lockwood explores what seemingly good people do when others aren’t watching. The repetition of “There is nothing to fear, there is nobody watching you” combined with layered vocals and the atmospheric sounds create this eerie vibe that you are being watched, a cool effect that leaves a feeling the listener won’t be able to shake for some time. “Don’t we all arrive at the same place where we began? / Don’t we all arrive where we began?” repeats as “Divisi” ends the album with the same lyrics that started it in “Always Burning, Always Dark,” taking the album into a cycle. DIVISI is an experimental album that is easy to leave on and forget to turn off repeat, with the cyclical lyrics of the first and last song and the alluring atmosphere created by both the instrumentation and distant-sounding vocals. It’s an album that has its place in the world and can’t be repeated or it’ll lose what makes it feel one of a kind and authentic.
Overall: DIVISI creates an experience, an album you can get lost in, whether you’re fully in the moment and aware, or you’re thinking about absolutely nothing and lost in the moment.
Review by Shane Haley