La Dispute/Koji - Never Come Undone

Album cover
Acoustic
No Sleep Records
La Dispute/Koji
Never Come Undone
La Dispute/Koji - Never Come Undone Review rating:
3
User rating:
Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

If you’re from Michigan (and maybe even if you aren’t), you know that the bond between La Dispute and Koji goes beyond friendship. It almost seems like a strange show if the two of them aren’t together for some reason, as I’ve seen them on a bill together more often than not. In any case, they’ve decided to team up and release a split that showcases their bonds in the manner of dealing with loss, a split by the name of Never Come Undone. The result is an unforeseen disappointment on one side, with La Dispute seemingly completely out of their element, while Koji is as strong as ever. It’s kind of a toss-up, but as a whole, this just doesn’t live up to any of the hype it might have had.

Both La Dispute and Koji contribute a new track on Never Come Undone, with La Dispute’s “Sunday Morning, at a Funeral” opening the proceedings. The 3/4-driven track is a sullen opener, tinged with familiar, yet toned down and rather fluid lyricism. Musically, the repetitive guitars provide a droning melody that gets buried into your head, while the drums push a constant waltz-like rhythm in the background. It is a good track, but not great. Vocalist Jordan Dreyer ambitiously leans on a more sung-out delivery and it just doesn’t quite hit the same way his normal shout-sung vocals do. Koji’s new addition “Peacemaker” combines his usual fare of passion-filled acoustic numbers with a spiced up instrumentation of drums and percussion. His guitar gets overpowered in parts, but the added bells and whistles (or maracas and tambourines) provide an added layer that makes this track even better.

The second tracks from each band fall into the “Other” category, as Koji does a well-constructed cover of Ted Leo’s “Biomusicology” while La Dispute gives us a redux of “Last Blues for Bloody Knuckles”, which is called “Last Blues” here. The former is tinged with strings and drums in a delicate, yet tasteful manner that accentuates Koji’s voice and rhythmic strumming. Keeping the slower paced manner of the original, this track again shines brighter from varied instrumentation than just Koji and his guitar. This isn’t saying he couldn’t carry the weight by himself, as he has played this song live on his solo tours, but the additions make this song that much better. La Dispute’s re-imagination “Last Blues” is a mixed bag of emotions. It would be harsh to say ‘if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it,’ but when compared to the original, this version just doesn’t hold the same emotional tension and resolve. The musical approach of this track doesn’t quite execute as strongly as the original either. Even on its own, “Last Blues” seems flat throughout, again leaving us wanting more vocally and not quite executing on the songwriting front.

It is kind of a disappointment to consider this split a failure on any front, but considering where Koji and La Dispute last left us (splits with Into It. Over It. and Touche Amore, respectively), it was kind of a toss-up where this would end up sonically. In the end, we are left with something that isn’t quite as good as we hoped it would be on La Dispute’s end, while Koji adds a few ingredients to create something even more sonically and emotionally appealing. Definitely worth a listen, but is not something good enough to tide us over until we get a new full-length from La Dispute.

1. Sunday Morning, at a Funeral
2. Peacemaker
3. Last Blues
4. Biomusicology
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