Review Summary: Maturation.
I once wrote that in order for me to have appreciated La Dispute’s Somewhere at the Bottom…
I needed some sort of heartbreak to happen to me, and it did. I believed that album to be fantastic in its despair, its lust for the viewer to relate to Dreyer’s lyrics, and I still believe it’s a bond that makes the album incredibly special. On Rooms of the House
there is none of that relation; nothing I can personally relate to I mean. No, here on La Dispute’s third LP, I feel for the fictional characters rather than relating the lyrics to my own troubles. Here I sit with my eyes closed and watch as the story unfolds.
And it’s unabashedly depressing. In fact, there isn't a single moment of genuine happiness to be found. The album starts with the decline of a married couple’s romance, showing us how hollow their once thought “everlasting” love has become and eventually ends with the aftermath of it all. From beginning to end it’s an album that does an excellent job retaining the listener’s interest, though some might find it incredibly difficult to finish the LP on one listen, simply from the sheer heaviness of the themes explored. What makes this album’s concept rise above just about anything else in music today is the fact it’s fictionalized. It’s very easy to provide tension and grip the listener when telling a true story, but to provide the same level of attention through a fictional story is another feat in itself. And they do it here through a variety of different ways. “HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956” puts us in a first person view of the wife who is off visiting her family while her husband is forced to stay for the weekend because of work. Then a tornado strikes. We feel the anguish of the unknown, the worry that overcomes the two over whether they are alive or not. La Dispute puts us in moments of peril that captivate and enthrall such as this or on “THE CHILD WE LOST 1963” where we see the effects of a stillbirth through the eyes of a younger sibling. La Dispute fancies us a passenger, and drive us through exquisite imagery that is fully realized and astutely awe-inspiring at the subtly through which its picks at our heartstrings.
As I mentioned, perhaps the most important part about this album is how effectively it flows from start to finish. Wildlife
saw the band beginning to understand cohesion, and here on Rooms of the House
is the fully recognized execution of it. Gone are the days of La Dispute’s half-crazed tempo changes, and random drum fills. Here every track clocks in at under 5 minutes, and each one of the instruments sound balanced instead of competing for each other’s spot. The bass-line on “Scenes From Highways 1981-2009” artfully weaves in and out of the lead guitars riff, effectively creating a sense of being on a highway. “35” uses a sorrowful lead guitar line to the crashing of drums on an aggression filled chorus that is very reminiscent of Brand New’s structure on much of The Devil and God…
. In actuality, where some of La Disputes more memorable moments on previous releases were their uncontrolled aggression, here it is the controlled moments that force the listeners ear’s to perk up. The melancholy found on tracks such as “Woman(In Mirror)” or “Objects in Space” are the most captivating moments on the LP. And while some are sure to be put off by the singing nature showcased, and there are some questionable moments, it is more times than not an efficient method to switch things up.
Rooms of the House
is an album that will challenge your inner emotions, if you care enough to appreciate how well told the story is. If Somewhere at the Bottom
was blind rage shown through youthful adolescence, then this is maturity through storytelling at its finest. La Dispute experiment with their sound a bit, and deliver an album that is sure to break you down, and you might question your ability to pick yourself back up. But that’s when you take your headphones out. You realize that it was just an album. An album that is absolutely enchanting and beautiful in its intricacies, and will surely find its way on many ‘Best of 2014’ lists by years end.