My first realization upon listening to Hands Like Houses’ third full-length album, Dissonants, was that I really missed Trenton Woodley’s voice. It was one of the first things that caught my attention back in 2012 with the band’s debut, Ground Dweller. Luckily for them, this album is just as good. Although it has been in the works for almost a year at this point, all the effort they put into it is evident from the first listen-through.
The guys of Hands Like Houses certainly took some cues from top hits of the past few years, making sure all the songs have attention grabbing hooks and catchy choruses. Still, that doesn’t mean they’ve ignored their signature sound, as they simultaneously made sure the tracks still contained the band’s signature edge. Evidently, the hype surrounding this record has grown fairly strong over the passing few months, and it is clear that the band wanted to live up to those expectations.
Dissonants opens with the album’s first single, “I Am,” and it’s a strong song to start the album off with. Full of breakdowns, it is potentially the heaviest content on the record. It succeeds in bringing the energy level up, and the band tries to keep it there for the remainder of the album.
While I didn’t really think much of “Stillwater” the first few times I listened to it, it quickly became one of my favorite tracks after a few more listens. Firstly, the song starts off with a clean, punchy drumbeat, and the sound remains consistent throughout the track. This works nicely with the lyrical content, as the song is all about losing time and even losing yourself. As Trenton sings, “How did we get so old and never notice?” the music holds steady but the words say otherwise. Still, the real standout of “Stillwater” is its last forty seconds. Woodley changes up the final lines only slightly but dramatically. He brings up his voice a little and goes into his falsetto, before ending it by screaming out the last few words. The remaining twenty seconds are instrumental, and they suffice in bringing the listener back down. This bold move makes all the difference, and it ultimately brings the song to a whole new level. It brings forth the passion that the song needed in order to show a bit of that vulnerability that we rarely see.
Towards the end of the release is “Degrees Of Separation.” Lyrically, this is probably my favorite song off the album. It speaks about the struggles of always being away from loved ones, as Trenton sings, “It hurts to know we’re always worlds apart.” Hands Like Houses is a band that is constantly on the road in various countries–usually thousands of miles away from home. It’s evident on this very personal track that touring life can get immensely hard for them, and that’s what makes this a song that a lot of listeners can relate to. While most of their fans likely aren’t on tour, people often have friends and family hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Many can relate to those feelings of sadness and disappointment that come with knowing that you can’t keep in such close contact with someone when the distance is so vast.
Although there were a few standout tracks on this release, the ones that weren’t of that caliber were just all right. They weren’t terrible by any means, but they lacked a spark that could’ve made them memorable. Because of that, there weren’t too many songs that I wanted to immediately listen to again and again. They even felt a bit repetitive at times, which made me wonder if I accidentally had a song on repeat.
That being said, this is still a strong album with plenty to offer. Evidently, the hype surrounding this record has grown fairly strong over the passing few months, and it is clear that the band wanted to live up to those expectations. Overall, I think Dissonants’ biggest success was showing that Hands Like House are nowhere near close to being done.
REVIEW BY KELLY FADDEN