This reviewer can’t help but root for a local team since she hails from Springfield herself. Park has come a long way since No Signal, and that rocked all the way back in high school. Building a Better (noun) fulfills a promise made four years ago to continue hitting it as loud and as intense as possible in the Midwest. After a couple of lineup changes, their sound has matured with more complex tempos and time signatures in their mix of electric and acoustic guitar. Miles Logan continues to forge ahead with stick-shattering drums. Ladd Mitchell’s vocals have developed a new complexity in extensive studio layering on a few songs, but still stand out well when left alone. Even with changes, Park has maintained their balance of pit-ready heart-pounders and basic laid-back acoustic tracks.
Even with the lyric sheets, it’s not hard to wonder, “What is this guy talking about? I don’t know, but it sounds really painful,” especially with lines like “your letters scratched across my throat like some painter’s ink spilled to canvas” in “Mississippi Burning.” So as a forewarning, if you don’t like emo, you probably won’t like this album. A lot of it is relationship-centric and loaded with parallel images of mutilation. Another example of this is “I will hold her legs and with that begin to cut away the veins that make her oh so pretty” in the otherwise-languid “Irukandji.” However, despite the (somewhat delightfully) grotesque emotional trainwreck of lyrics, it is great for what it is, so crank it up and catch them live if you get the chance.