Hands Like Houses - Dissonants

Artist: Hands Like Houses
Album: Dissonants
Genre: Post-hardcore, experimental, alternative rock
For Fans Of: Slaves, I the Mighty, Emarosa
Reviewer: Angelica Nicolle Abalos

Australian rock band Hands Like Houses are back with a new 12-track studio album titled Dissonants, set to release on Feb. 26. For this album, vocalist Trenton Woodley, lead guitarist Matt Cooper, rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Alexander Pearson, bass guitarist Joel Tyrrell, and drummer Matt Parkitny found themselves working once more with producer James Paul Wisner and Erik Ron. With Dissonants releasing almost four months later from its original release date (Oct. 2015), the extra time spent in the studio was undoubtedly well worth the wait. While the word “dissonant” is defined as lacking harmony, unmelodious, or cacophonous, this album is anything but. Hands Like Houses’ new record is not one set on being a compilation of musical dissonance, but rather, is an anthemic album that defines what it means to be dissonant.

The three singles preceding the album, “I Am”, “Colourblind”, and “New Romantics”, only merely scratch the surface of what Dissonants encompasses and has to offer. The blend of striking musicianship on this album is incredibly well done. The ethereal sounds and crisp vocals provide songs for fans to sing out wholeheartedly. No matter the setting, this record demands to be sung, or screamed out, in a packed out stadium, driving along the highway or in the quiet of one’s own home. Hands Like Houses fully embrace a movement towards a more heavier, darker sound than their previous releases, and successfully accomplish this task without losing any lyrical integrity. It is evident that Dissonants is an excellent, high-energy album created by a band that is ready to take the world by storm.

Dissonants carries a unique sound and vibe throughout the album. Each instrument has been highlighted in such a way that listeners can pick them out individually without any one instrument being overshadowed by the others. Trenton Woodley’s distinct, clean vocals especially ring through the instrumentation in its own remarkable way. The album flows flawlessly well as a unified piece; no song feels out of place as they seamlessly fade into each other. When played on repeat, a new listener would find it a difficult task to tell where the album starts and ends, which, in this case, is not a bad thing. Though the Dissonants carries a consistent sound, it is anything but repetitive.

Right from the get-go, Dissonants starts off with a strong first track that demands attention. “I Am” begins with a distinctive guitar riff and distant drum beat that lures the listener in before immediately bursting into raging instrumentals. To say “I Am” sets the tone for the rest of record would be an understatement; Dissonants only gets better from here. Throughout the album, Woodley’s lyrics touch on the struggles in life, one’s journey through dark times and pushing through to overcome obstacles throws in your way. “Perspectives” showcases tension in a person’s relationship.  As lyrics such as “all my life, I’ve tried letting you inside… you just don’t get it” are screamed to no end, this song can easily be identified with for those feeling misunderstood.

“New Romantics” continues on with hard-hitting instrumentals, and highlights bassist Joe Tyrrel’s bold, groovy beats. There is a wonderful balance of calm and chaos that builds up into an eccentric storm. “Glasshouse” is filled with thrashing instrumentals and booming beats. Listener’s are uplifted as they sing at the top of their lungs - “I will say I was brave until the sky collapsed on me / Can you hear the thunder in my chest?”

Riding on the momentous waves created by the preceding tracks, “Stillwater” is filled with chilling lyrics and Woodley’s sharp, cutting vocals and can be considered an anthem for the underdogs. Dissonants rages on into a “Momentary” stillness, but does not come up short of delivering a powerful punch as the band takes the album down a more mellow route. Even these toned down songs show a perfected and intricate production that only adds to the story they aim to tell. The album finishes up in the same way it began: boldly, full of energy and filled with emotion.

Hands Like Houses has shown themselves worthy of the spotlight and all attention they have been getting, and they have only begun to show us just what they are capable of. Dissonants is proof that it’s better to get it right than to get it done. They definitely got it right with this album, and there is no doubt that they’re not done yet. The future looks bright for Hands Like Houses, so don’t sleep on this album and keep an eye out for their next big move.

Track List:

1. I Am
2. Perspectives
3. Colourblind
4. New Romantics
5. Glasshouse
6. Division Symbols
7. Stillwater
8. Momentary
9. Motion Sickness
10. Degrees of Separation
11. Grey Havens
12. Bloodlines

Pre-order “Dissonants” via MerchNow.