La Dispute

Rooms Of The House

Written by: JWM on 24/03/2014 20:16:03

One thing you know for a fact when you pick up a La Dispute record is that you are in for a very different experience from your typical album. Since their incredible 2011 album "Wildlife", they've challenged people's conventional understand of not just what post-hardcore should be, but what music can be. And with their third album "Rooms Of The House" they not only follow their own tradition, but push it to its further extreme.

Giving themselves a story-driven sound was the only logical direction for this band, as you could never imagine a band like La Dispute to sound "bigger". Instead, building upon their thrift for drama and its emotional connections between the listener and the writer "Rooms Of The House" is much like a film or a play; it has narrative, characters and depth. It follows the story of a relationship that decays quite sharply as the main character contemplates the memories and the stories of the house he lives in.

The album takes strong influence from the same structure that defined "Wildlife", with “HUDSONVILLE MI 1956", "SCENES FROM HIGHWAYS 1981-2009" and "THE CHILD WE LOST 1963" acting as monologues that bring sub-text to the story. With the former focusing on a family's survival in the Michigan tornado outbreak of April 1956, the second being a collection of different stories and lives of people wishing to see more of the natural world beyond a highway, while the latter looks at the story of a young girl and her sisters learning about the sister they never got to know. These three are distinctly dynamic, fast-spoken, aggressively paced songs that epitomise the talent of singer and lyricist Jordan Dreyer as he delivers a story that is conveyed with urgency and eloquent bursts of rage. That structural influence is reflected again on "35" which follows a very similar narrative to "King Park", with a person witnessing a disaster on tv, allowing his mind to be transported there through their empathy for the situation.

The two parts of "Woman (in mirror)” and "Woman (reading)" reflect the more compassionate side that drives the lead character, offering a beautiful contrast between the rage and dislike he feels for himself for staying in a loveless relationship. Both songs sonically put strong emphasis on the band's blues elements, this brings great melodies into their repertoire, even to the point where the former reminds me of Dire Straits. Memories of sorrow and stress have been relieved with the closing diary entry of "Objects in Space", where the character packs up every object in the home that relates to his now ended relationship. It feels like the song really belongs on belated "Here, Hear" extended plays from the band, with the way the instrumentation is more of a metronome to a man's inner-thoughts.

Completely unforgettable yet incredibly difficult to distinguish at first. "Rooms Of The House" is a very catchy album, as you listen to it you cant help but be gripped by its melodrama, its very inspired guitar riffs, minimalistic drums, and soft, melodic bass. But alongside that accessibility lies it's complexity, as the songs constantly progress without a moment for the listener to fully pick up what is happening. A key example of this is "Woman (reading)" which disappointingly moves on far too quickly from its beautiful easy listening nature. But this joins to the other issue with the album that despite the very genius lyrics, there are some interesting and brilliant things happening with the musicians of La Dispute, something elusive that I can't help but feel is neglected to some extent. But even then, the drama all comes together with how decisively immersive its story can be. For instance, the clearer passages of songs like "For Mayor in Splitsville", "35" and "Stay Happy There" create a very real imagery that makes you feel quite beside yourself as it unfolds in your mind. "Stay Happy There" in particular, is the heaviest song on the album and as it climaxes it references much of the other scenes from the story and you can't help but see the chaotic montage.

The end product is simply a triumph. With all of its imperfections and perfections lies one of the best records I have heard since "Wildlife". Sure it's challenging, but it's also so accessible and brilliantly forward thinking. At a time period like this in music when albums start to mean less, creating a record that is written like one solid song, (much like the progressive rock bands of before my time) this is very much the rock record we need.

Download: First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice; Woman (reading); For Mayor in Splitsville
For The Fans Of: Mewithoutyou; At The Drive-In; Listener
Listen: La Dispute's Facebook

Release date 18.03.2013
Better Living

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