For Fans Of
Hands Like Houses’ much anticipated third studio album has caught everyone off guard. Even in the lead up, there have been mutterings: have they gone Risecore? Are the hints of core we heard in their first few singles going to force our experimental alt rock pals into becoming generic?
It is true that Hands Like Houses have gotten a little heavier. From the outset of the album on ‘I Am’, the guitars are grittier, the drums hit harder, and there’s even a breakdown. In fact, there are a lot of breakdowns on this album. Despite that, they come in purposefully, not redundantly, so rest assured that this is not reproduced metalcore, and it definitely isn’t whatever the hell Risecore is.
Rather, Hands Like Houses retain their signature sound throughout the album, but step up the aggression a bit with the introduction of weightier guitar tones and sporadic uncleans. Instead of feeling methodical, vocalist Trenton Woodley’s slight screams come in natural, a la Pierce The Veil. On both ‘Division Symbols’ and ‘Glasshouse’, they only feature when summoned by the simmering intensity of the songs.
Always thinking outside of the box, Hands Like Houses also allow subtle electronic soundscapes to find their place on the record, as well as experimentalism instrumentally. For reference, scope the overpowering bass line that runs through ‘New Romantics’ and ‘Motion Sickness’. There are sombre moments on the album too, but only fleeting ones, which you’ll be able to detect on ‘Stillwater’, a cut that takes the LP’s pace down a miniscule notch.
Regardless of the change this release brings, the thing about Hands Like Houses is that they have never, and definitely haven’t on this album, lost themselves in attempts at innovation. It feels like they’ve been around for a while, but they manage to dish out fresh tunes despite their mainstay status. You can always track their conviction, from the lyrical content to its delivery through Woodley’s miraculous set of pipes. As one of Australia’s most hardworking bands, and certainly one of the post-hardcore scene’s most individual, it comes as no surprise that they’ve delivered another satisfying and intricate body of work in the twelve tracks that comprise their third studio album.
Some of these songs are anthemic, and some of them will appeal to a certain demographic. But the overriding takeaway from ‘Dissonants’ is Hands Like Houses’ ability to deliver a record that preaches a message of unity and flaunts a cohesive play through despite offering a title with a contradictory meaning.
1. I Am
4. New Romantics
6. Division Symbols
9. Motion Sickness
10. Degrees of Separation
11. Grey Havens