Here’s a question: What do we mean when we say a given record is timeless? Is it simply a matter of longevity and staying power? Some fanciful combination of critical consensus, legacy and cultural influence? Is it a nostalgic thread sewn into the memory of the listener; one they dare not pull for fear of unravelling fragile ideas of the self? Maybe it’s all of these factors and more. Talk to a physicist and they’ll tell you that time, as we perceive it, doesn’t actually exist. Instead, it’s nothing but the cognitive smoke and mirrors of daily existence. To be timeless then is, philosophically speaking, rather unremarkable. So what are the qualities that classify an object—in this case, a mere assemblage of sounds and sensations—as inherently timeless? The term itself appears to be a paradox, as much about presence as it is about absence. Deep down, we know that something is there, in the thing itself, yet the answer remains elusive.
In 2011, I was 23, living on my own, recovering from the slow disintegration of my first serious relationship, and, perhaps most importantly, I was painfully late to the La Dispute party. By the time I had my mind blown by the heteroglossic post-hardcore on their debut album, 2008’s Somewhere At the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, the band had already passed through my city on their first DIY Australian tour. Word of mouth spread quickly following that run of shows, helping to shape them into the stuff of local legend, punctuated by multiple reports of sweaty bodies rushing stages, frenzied performances and a pervasive sense of live-wire energy felt by crowd and crew alike. Nonetheless, I was hooked, and I wanted in.