MOS Album Review: “Dissonants” by Hands Like Houses

Hands Like Houses was formed in 2008 by school friends Trenton Woodley, Matt “Coops” Cooper, Alex Pearson, Joel Tyrrell, and Matty Parkitny. They hail from Canberra, Australia, and have been signed to Rise Records since 2012. Hands Like Houses have put out two studio albums, Ground Dweller (2012) and Unimagine (2013), and have toured across the world with the likes of Sleeping With Sirens, Pierce the Veil, and Memphis May Fire. This band hasn’t stopped to take a breath in almost eight years, and it looks like they’re not planning on it anytime soon.

Hands Like Houses are dropping their third studio album, Dissonants, on February 26th. This record is stunning, and could well be a career maker for the band. Check out Meredith’s review below.

The definition of dissonant is “lacking harmony.” If I could interview Hands Like Houses, one of my first questions would be to ask why the album is titled Dissonants, but I can make my own assumptions. The album has plenty of great literal harmonies, but the emotion and instrumentals and overall feel of the album is thunderous and loud, a symphony of sound, chaos in a good way. It feels big when you listen to it. Each song is so sweepingly immense that you really do get a unique feeling when listening to the album as a whole.

“I Am” is the first track, and it starts the album out heavy with subtle techy elements. You immediately realize that Trenton Woodley has a gorgeous voice, cleaner and more clear than a lot of the bands in this genre. His vibrato and his range are something to be admired, kind of reminiscent of Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. The backing vocals and the choir part before the breakdown make this song sound so big, and gave me the chills.

Next up is “Perspectives,” a little more of a raw track. The chorus is catchy and something you could sing along to. This song, and the drumming masterpiece that is “Degrees of Separation” are what prove to me that Hands Like Houses has enough appeal and relate-ability for popular radio. This song has an Anberlin feel, and the chorus is blunt and powerful: “All my life I tried letting you inside to see the world through my eyes, and all I see is time I’ve wasted.”

“Colourblind” is my favorite track on Dissonants. Matty Parkitny’s drums are so clean and the guitar parts are so dynamic. And Woodley’s high notes during the chorus are beautiful. The chant of “We are,” is so effective in creating a feeling of unity and making this song feel revolutionary. And the music video is so neat, it adds to the song in my opinion.

“New Romantics” shows a groovier side to the band, especially with Matt Cooper’s guitar. It makes you wanna move. The brassy percussion and catchy chorus are great and I honestly love some good cymbal smashing and this song has that.

The song that fits the most with the dissonant definition has to be “Glasshouse.” This song is a crazy storm of guitar build-up to a gorgeous, epic chorus. This song continues the vast feel of the record, and the feedback heavy breakdown sounds like a million bees buzzing. The harmonies on this one are soft, but brilliant.

“Division Symbols” is up next and the main thing I liked about this one was the powerful unclean vocals. They manage to still be just as pretty as the cleans and I wish there were more of them on this album.

“Stillwater” is breathy and softer than a lot of the other songs on Dissonants, and this is the one that solidified the depth of the record for me. The lyrical content on this album is profound and reaches a deeper level than a lot of what’s out there right now. The instrumentals are melodic and relentless, and the end of the song is theatrically solemn. The vibrato in Woodley’s vocals and being able to hear his accent add a really nice effect.

“Grey Havens” is another heavy track that makes you think, getting into what death is and what it might feel like. The lyric “Will it feel like waking up, when a dream just disappears?” hit me so hard. It’s something everyone thinks about and most people are scared of, so this song is chillingly relevant. And the breakdown is A+.

Honorable mentions to “Momentary” and “Motion Sickness” because they’re catchy as fuck. “Momentary” has some of the best harmonies, while “Motion Sickness” almost has an R&B vibe.

And “Bloodlines” finishes it all off the way it should. It’s grand, sweeping, and shows off the skill of every single member of the band. The crisp, clean recording of this record really shines, and the song is borderline spiritual. “Just by killing time, we kill ourselves,” is hard-hitting and necessary for a lot of us to face, and the group chant and huge bridge are tremendous.

Dissonants is truly art, a glorious project from a band who seems to know exactly who they are. Hands Like Houses has a lot to say on this album, and brings up a lot for you to consider. And they’ve managed to make the record feel like a monstrous, living, breathing thing. You should definitely pick it up when it debuts in a couple weeks.

Hands Like Houses is:

Trenton Woodley – lead vocals, piano, programming, keyboard
Matt “Coops” Cooper – lead guitar
Alexander Pearson – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Joel Tyrrell – bass guitar, backing vocals
Matt Parkitny – drums

You can pick up Dissonants here.

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