Review by Shannon Shumaker
Dissonants, the highly anticipated new album from Hands Like Houses, is well worth the wait. Starting off strong and keeping the same big, high energy and anthemic sound going for all twelve songs, Dissonants is sure to satisfy listeners both new and old.
Hands Like Houses waste no time in delivering a fun and catchy opening track with “I Am.” Instrumentally, the song grabs your attention right from the first note and refuses to let go until it comes to an end. With prominent and constantly moving guitar and bass work alongside stunning anthemic vocals, “I Am” is like a war cry. Vocalist Trenton Woodley transitions easily from melodic singing into passionate screams in the blink of eye, keeping you on your toes and making you want to sing along at the same time. The same big sound from “I Am” can also be found on the following song, “Perspectives,” which has a little bit of everything, from fast, sweeping guitar work and a standout bass tone to big drum parts and sing along worthy vocals. Complete with a huge chorus “Perspectives” keeps the album chugging forward, setting the tone for the remaining ten songs.
“Colourblind” is easily one of the strongest tracks on Dissonants, as if feels much more emotional than the first two anthemic songs. While “Colourblind” still has a very big sound, especially in the drumming, the low vocals in the beginning and the contrasting high vocals in the chorus are a total standout. Not only that, but “Colourblind” changes pace quite a few times, later evolving into aggressive screams before fading into soft vocals - the amount of versatility on the song is amazing.
Much like “Perspectives,” the following track, “New Romantics” is strong not only thanks to Woodley’s stunning vocals, but also because of the incredible instrumentals. The bass work on “New Romantics” is some of the strongest on the album. The track is catchy and big, just like the songs that come before it, but stands out because of the different vocal patterns and wild bass work. However, there are a few moments on Dissonants where the songs seem to blend together. Save for a few tracks, the energy on the album stays at about the same level for all twelve songs, and while this high energy and big sound makes for a fun listen, it makes it hard for some songs to stand out from the pack.
Thankfully, there are quite a few songs toward the end of Dissonants that do stand out, though. “Division Symbols,” for example, is more aggressive, frustrated and fast paced, contrasting well with the following song, “Stillwater,” which is slower, carried mostly by drums and echoing, longing vocals. Then comes “Motion Sickness,” which is quite possibly the slowest song on the album. The great thing about “Motion Sickness” is its big, arena ready sound despite the fact that it is a slower track.
Following “Motion Sickness” is “Degrees of Separation,” which tells of the longing of missing someone when you’re on the road. Much like the song before it, “Degrees of Separation” has a big sound despite being a more emotional track, and similar to “New Romantics,” the fuzzy bass work on this song is absolutely incredible. By the time “Degrees of Separation” comes to an end, it’s hard not to sing along with Woodley as he sings, “It hurts to know we’re worlds apart.”
Closing out Dissonants is the big, emotional track, “Bloodlines.” The final track takes cues from the earlier songs on the album with a very anthemic sound, especially in the group vocals toward the end. Leaving listeners with quite possibly the biggest ending on the album, “Bloodlines” leaves you longing for more and aching to press play all over again. Dissonants is a satisfying release, and is bound to leave you exhausted by the time it comes to an end after twelve in your face, anthemic tracks.
Listen to "Colourblind" or "New Romantics"
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