October 11, 2011 - Doghouse
It was only a matter time before the prog-emo stylings of Coheed And Cambria met the screamo scene. Singers Kurt Travis (ex-Dance Gavin Dance) and Cory Lockwood use too much of the “balls-in-vice” method of screaming, which generally results in too much caterwauling, especially on the more hyperactive numbers like “THINK DIRTY OUT LOUD.” It distracts mightily from what are some damn fine prog chops from the rest of this Sacramento, California, band. These guys can play; they just need to let us in on their inside jokes once in awhile. (They are literally laughing at us at one point.)
Most of Conversation Piece is a likeable, competent and solid listen, save for those screechy vocals. When the band change gears and hit us with an atmospheric piece of prog-rock like “Truly Random Code,” ir’s a refreshing break. (Of course, not for long—those harsh vocals show up again in the song’s epic climax.) If the band could ditch the kitchen-sink approach and focus on a solid ebb and flow, A Lot Like Birds would be a band to contend with in the post-hardcore scene. As it stands, Conversation Piece is a scattered yet competent album that shouldn’t piss off anyone too badly. The only real moment of aghast comes in reaction to the funked-out slap bass and swagger of “Vanity’s Fair,” which sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers on speed. Ugh.