Okay, okay, OKAY – let’s just cut to the chase! Hands Like Houses isn’t exactly a household name – sigh. Despite the low profile, the Aussie post-hardcore band has released three albums –Ground Dweller, Unimagine, and latest effort Dissonants – all via Rise Records. Regardless of albums sales or lack thereof, take one listen to Dissonants and it’s clear you don’t wanna miss out on these guys! What are we saying here? Dissonants (and Hands Like Houses) is the “cat’s meow.”
“I Am” initiates Dissonants in spirited fashion. Set in a minor key, Hands Like Houses don’t hold back on the angst, darkness, or pain. Tying things together spectacularly is the memorable, anthemic, fist-pounding chorus. A great first impression – Yes – by all means!
“Perspectives” certainly keeps the perspective of Dissonants as one of utmost consistency. The script isn’t ‘brand new’ by post-hardcore standards, but there’s nothing wrong with the flex-fest that goes down here: soaring chorus, malicious guitars, and a pleasant yet foreboding vibe. “Perspectives” as a song itself is certainly NOT “all for nothing,” as the notable lyrics lead us to believe.
Give “Colourblind” credit for its balance – it isn’t all a big ball of head-banging ferociousness! During the verses, frontman Trenton Woodley shows incredible poise, intensifying his approach beginning on the pre-chorus. By the chorus, all hell breaks loose – in the most celestial, satisfying fashion of course: “… We’re colourblind from the black and white…” If songs one and two were just previews, then this is clearly the main attraction!
“New Romantics” is arguably the most radio-ready song from Dissonants and that is NOT a backhanded compliment for the single. “New Romantics” rocks as much as everything that arrives prior to it, but it has that extra-special oomph and it latches from the first listen. Jagged, manic, and gargantuan dynamically, Trenton Woodley and company “nail it” without a hitch. Woodley’s vocal clarity on this cut in particular is a bright spot.
“Glasshouse” continues to deliver with passion and earnestness (“Can you hear the thunder in my chest? / Can you feel how heavy lies the air?”). The music itself propels the adrenaline rush vocals of Woodley, likewise elevating the listener’s heart rate and spirit. No letdown comes by way of “Division Symbols,” another sharp, quick-paced joint in which the melodrama is real: “Drag me down with every word out of your mouth…let me count the ways you kill me.” Yeah, it’s ‘blown out of proportion,’ but isn’t that what makes post-hardcore great? Yes, that was a rhetorical question.
“Stillwater” continues the ‘woe is me’ or rather ‘woe is us,’ once more brilliantly delivering a chorus implying the title without literally saying it. “How did we gain the world and lose the moment? / Rise and fall, the tide surrounds us / and drowns us all.” “Momentary” is uplifting, despite the typical minor key and bold, piercing lead vocals. Rather than being in hell for eternity, the misfortune is short-lived; momentary. “I’m dust on the record stop” Woodley cleverly sings – aka he’s fixable.
“Motion Sickness” is predictable, but not in a bad way. Posed to a girl seemingly, when everything else is a ‘four-letter word,’ well, “you flicker”…she flickers…she’s atonement…capiche? Hands Like Houses definitely makes us feel the “Degrees Of Separation” given more infectious energy with little if nothing to object to.
Penultimate smash “Grey Havens” elevates things in even more pronounced fashion. Music theory nerds will appreciate the closing major tonic chord at the end of each chorus after thriving in a devastated sounding minor key (modal interchange if you’re feeling über nerdy). “Bloodlines” concludes intriguingly.
All said and done folks, we have a winner here! If you haven’t familiarized yourself with Hands Like Houses, well, this is the time! If you wanna rock out, Dissonants is definitely the album to do so. There are no misses with consistency and energy being the M.O. So what are you waiting for? Get to head banging!
Favorites: “I Am,” “Colourblind,” “New Romantics,” “Stillwater” and “Grey Havens”
Hands Like Houses • Dissonants • Rise • Release Date: 2.26.16