La Dispute: Rooms Of The House – album review
The heavily anticipated third album from Michigan post-hardcore band La Dispute, who almost defy categorisation, is out this week. And it is, says Louder Than War’s Ian Critchley, quite simply, a boundary pusher.
Rage is all the rage, or say they say. It was the pure chaotic rage of La Dispute‘s first two records that drew me in until the point that the music felt like an addiction, or a religion, and I didn’t feel wholly right throughout the day until I’d dipped into the prophetic words of ‘Said The King To The River’ or ‘Edwards Benz, 27 Times’. So my heart raced with anticipation upon hearing the news that the Michigan quintet were set to release a third, for fans like a second coming, and that I had been sent a pre-release copy to review.
But a large part of the chaos that had caught me in a vice-grip has been washed away with ‘Rooms Of The House’, and replaced with what feels like an introverted sense of self-reflection that comes in the form of a more acute focus of melody as opposed to the almost anarchic approach taken in the past. This takes some getting used to, at first, as like most fans I headed into my initial listen expecting (and in many ways hoping) for a record that was merely an extension, not a progression. The brief disappointment of that was soon quelled though with the realisation that, though different, ‘Rooms Of The House’ was equally as great in its own right.
‘Woman (in mirror)’ is by far the best example or just how much the band have transformed with this record. Though still utilising spoken word, intricate guitar parts, and a deep lyrical concept, gone are the fuzzy shoegaze influenced guitar distortion and the heart-racing urgency of Jordan Dreyer’s vocals. Instead we are treated to a style that feels quite poppy, a somewhat avant-garde experiment that would possibly work quite well on a very experimental hip-hop record.
‘For Mayor In Splitsville’ is the closest La Dispute have ever got to having a conventional single, and was obvious as top choice for a video shoot, with it’s somewhat upbeat feel and almost jovial lyrical melody with lyrics that unravel the woes of how the simplicity of childhood is beautiful and pure, always unaware of the inevitable decline in happiness as adulthood sets in, yet never truly grasped until it’s too late.
The entire record tells the tale of how love can begin as something filled with happiness and hope which slowly decays into resentment, and a grand sense of unfulfilment, through the eyes of a couple struggling to make their relationship survive as they churn through the days trapped inside the comfort of their own home with only each other as company. These tensions reach boiling point just past the halfway marker of the record with the track ‘Stay Happy There’,which sees a return to the sound La Dispute fans are accustomed to, with singer Dreyer attempting to fill ever beat with poetry through a cacophony of guttural cries and melody, while the buzz of distorted strings and pounding drums tear away the defensive walls of any listeners emotions with such tenacity it becomes difficult to not not scream along in bitter anguish (so don’t listen to the second half of the album on public transport).
La Dispute have always been a band who struggle adamantly to not fit within any specific genre clichés. ‘Rooms Of The House’ not only does that, but also pushes the boundaries of their own seemingly unlimited originality further than anyone really thought possible.
‘Rooms Of The House’ is available from the bands website.
All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.