Hands Like Houses


Written by: TL on 28/02/2016 16:10:14

There is irony in how it was the post-hardcore fanbase that first embraced the Australians in Hands Like Houses, considering that the band's original stand-out feature was the omission of the screams that were otherwise considered essential to that genre. Here four years following their debut "Ground Dweller" the band has arrived at album number three, titled "Dissonants", and while the mainstay of their fanbase remains the same, it's safe to say that there's barely anything prefix-core about their sounds these days. Not that the band has changed a great deal since 2013's excellent "Unimagine". There are hints of slightly darker hard rock melodies peeking out here and there on "Dissonants", but at a glance, the band's trade remains the same: Energetic, melodious modern hard rock with clean vocals. Bands like America's Slaves or I The Mighty, as well as England's Young Guns, come to mind as solid comparisons.

Upon repeat scrutiny, however, things feel vaguely yet unmistakeably different on "Dissonants", the best way to explain it being that everything feels a bit more simplistic, regulated and, sadly, unoriginal. Admittedly, if asked to describe the album in one word, that word should probably still be 'decent', and there are in fact, at least some worthy singles on the record. Opener "I Am" flows ahead nicely and booms with a solid helping of fist-pump-worthy power, and track three, "Colourblind", is a fitting single choice, thriving particularly off a nice call-response prechorus and one of the album's few decisively heavy moments in the break towards the end. And not so long after, "Division Symbols" also figures as a dark horse for favourite status, leaping from downbeat pre-chorus to upbeat, layered chorus in a way that also works quite well.

It's just that, while things feel like they have a solid amount of production power and fit together in a way that never wastes the listener's time, you can scout in vain hoping for actually infectious, impact moments. Considering that at least half the tracks on "Unimagine" threw something at the listener which you can still return to with fond feelings to this day, it's weird that you sit through "Dissonants" waiting awkwardly for something to blow you off your seat in a similar way. And seeing as Hands Like Houses, by and large, sound the same, the only clear cause seems to be that their instrumentation and arrangements have become more typical, less their own. Their personal imprint on the genres they're inspired by seems to have gone missing somewhere along the way to writing something that sounds manufactured to fit arena shows and sports event muzak.

The lack of musical and stylistic ingenuity is a severe handicap for "Dissonants" then, which, despite some clearly enjoyable singles, gets to feeling down the stretch like an overly long 'career sustainer', more so than a work of particular passion or vision. As if Hands Like Houses, in the process of learning how arena rock is made in the industry, have misplaced some of the personal touches that made them stand out in the first place. It's a solid and believable listen if you're the sort who enjoys radio-friendly rock without too high demands, and it offers a couple of genuinely enjoyable singles, but it's not very exciting as a front to back album listen.


Download: Colourblind, Division Symbols
For The Fans Of: Slaves, I The Mighty, Young Guns, Anberlin, Linkin Park
Listen: facebook.com/handslikehouses

Release date 26.02.2016
Rise Records

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