For Fans Of
In light of unnecessary remixes and the underwhelming presentations of ‘remastered’ songs, it’s hard to expect much when a band announces that they’re going back to a past album. On the contrary, Hands Like Houses’ Reimagine EP is a shining example of everything that modifying past songs should be – it adds depth to their sophomore record Unimagine without taking away what made the songs special in the first place.
If you haven’t heard the EP, you have to be aware that it’s not an acoustic cover. If you have, then you’ll understand what we’re talking about: Reimagine enriches, rather than strips back, Unimagine. While it would be easy to tear apart the band for taking the risk of harking back to their past success, Reimagine is cohesive, and a consistently intricate record that has probably been overlooked by far too many. Hands Like Houses haven’t deconstructed these songs. They’ve rebuilt them.
On ‘recollect (Shapeshifters)’, the band kicks Reimagine off with claps –bringing a warmth and authenticity to the opener, without making them feel overly constructed or out of place. The way that the production has complementarily blended singer Trenton Woodley’s vocals with acoustics and experimental instrumentals (is that you, bongos?) adds to the precision of each song, an exhibition of the band’s craftsmanship in reshaping the skeletons that they’ve transposed from Unimagine.
But ‘revive (Introduced Species)’ proves that this record is a whole new animal. The volume dynamics are perfect –the gang vocals create a more genuine feeling within the song. The organic sound is refined on ‘rediscover (No Parallels)’, which involves whistling, contributing to the overall positivity of the tune that distinguishes the route that Hands Like Houses are willing to take from their ‘Risecore’ contemporaries.
Ironically, the songs without full LP ingredients take on a new power, which manifests in the EP’s conclusion: the way that the instrumentals on ‘release (A Tale of Outer Suburbia)’ rise and fall with Woodley’s vocals creates a raw catharsis, not only showing off the front man’s skill but encompassing an intense emotionality. ‘Reflect (Developments)’ does the same, albeit with static-resemblant sounds that may come off as polarising on a first listen. Despite that, the soft keys and apt harmonies make it an impressive closer. Not to say that Reimagine is better or worse than the album it was born out of, but it gives the songs a new life, a refreshing turn on aspects of Unimagine that may have seemed clustered or overly ambitious.
It’s hard to discount a band who can revisit a past album, and who can revisit it well. While it may not be for everyone, especially those who crave heavier instrumentals, Reimagine is not only an illumination of the meticulous craftsmanship of Hands Like Houses’ songs, which retain their integrity even in the process of rebuilding, but a cementation of the band’s place as one of the most underrated bands in the alternative scene.
1. recollect (Shapeshifters)
2. revive (Introduced Species)
3. rediscover (No Parallels)
4. release (A Tale of Outer Suburbia)
5. reflect (Developments)