Words About Music
La Dispute “Rooms of the House”
For post-hardcore fans, Michigan’s La Dispute is either a blessing or a curse. Some praise the poetic narratives the band often crafts, while others see it as pretentious and repetitive. Personally, I love the band. Their 2011 sophomore LP “Wildlife” is a devastating, intense, and emotionally awe-inspiring album filled with charming anecdotes of drive-by shootings, a schizophrenic man stabbing his father, and the deaths of children. The “Will I still get into heaven if I kill myself?” refrain of “King Park” still haunts me to this day. While “Wildlife” dealt with issues that often plague urban families, though, “Rooms of the House” seems to delve more into the suburban aspect of things. Instead of murder and disease we see natural disasters and decaying marriages. “Rooms of the House” seems to revolve around some sort of storm and its recurring effects on different generations of families as time passes. At least that’s what I get from the fragmented narrative.
“Rooms of the House” shares the dramatic intensity of the band’s previous two albums, but they also put quite a bit of focus on the instrumentation. This is the first time that I’ve actually noticed how the bang of the drums and the specific guitar riff clashes so pleasantly with the vocals. The topics at hand may not seem as “serious” as those presented in “Wildlife,” but they sure are presented with such raw, uncompromising ferocity that it’s really hard to view their depiction of divorce as any different than their depictions of murder.
And for those who like all the violence, don’t worry. There’s still plenty in “Rooms of the House.” The twisting of metal and overall horror caused by the storm in the opening song “HUDSONVILLE MI 1956” seems to do lasting damage throughout the entire album. A pregnant woman is nearly killed, cars crash into each other, and a family nearly torn apart forever by this storm. But the storm isn’t the focal point of “Rooms of the House.” The focal point is, of course, lead singer Jordan Dreyer’s unmistakable vocal delivery and his impeccable ability to narrate a story.
Much like “Wildlife,” “Rooms of the House” is a cathartic experience. However it is also slightly subdued in some places, which makes it not quite as stylistically consistent. This isn’t bad at all to me. In fact it makes the whole thing feel more dramatic in an atmospheric way rather than in an in-your-face-this-is-how-you-should-feel sort of way. All in all, “Rooms of the House” is a bit of a departure from what La Dispute was up to on “Wildlife,” but only enough to give nonbelievers a chance to see them as more than a one trick pony. The music is still brilliantly dramatic and wickedly intense. Also incredibly morbid. It’s not as deathly as Sun Kil Moon’s “Benji,” but it’s a fantastic album from one of post-hardcore’s finest. It’s also super catchy.
SCORE – 8.8
FAVORITE TRACKS – HUDSONVILLE MI 1956, First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice, For Mayor in Splitsville, 35, Stay Happy There, THE CHILD WE LOST 1963, Extraordinary Dinner Party, Objects in Space