La Dispute
Rooms of the House


4.0
excellent

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
March 18th, 2014 | 249 replies


Release Date: 03/18/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album of snapshots and the places in which those moments are housed.

People who grow up in small towns or any other sort of close-knit community have to deal every day with the weight of reputation. Because they are constantly in danger of being remembered for that one stupid thing they did as a kid, it almost seems safer sometimes to attempt to blend into the background. After all, splashes made in small, still bodies of water spread outward for quite a while. Still, despite those efforts, one can only influence a reputation so much, and it is only the most forgettable of individuals who can avoid the trap. Citizens of small towns often populate the songs of La Dispute, and it seems singularly ironic that the band has to deal with the very same problem of their reputation. That one thing is Somewhere At The Bottom Of The River Between Altair And Vega, an album that, although not terrible, was dragged down by excessive lyrical and vocal bombast. The subject of spurned love has always been a little shallow, but never more so than when Jordan Dreyer tried to make it sound like the deepest and most vital thing you could write about. For all the illusions of haste and movement in those songs, La Dispute was ultimately, to borrow a phrase from Rooms Of The House, just moving furniture around.

Since then, they’ve started writing actual songs instead of friend-zone poems set to music. Wildlife was a great leap forward, and Rooms Of The House further evolves their sound. It is an album that is obsessed with snapshots of moments, and also the places in which those moments are housed. There are infinite branching possibilities to our lives, but those possibilities are also infinitely small within the timeline of human history. Appropriately, Dreyer has learned to focus more closely on quieter themes instead of the unnecessarily grandiose lyrics on Somewhere…. Two of the songs on this album - “Woman (In Mirror)” and “Woman (Reading)” - are basically musical still life paintings. In fact, the musicians of La Dispute have always seemed a little bit like painters, and that’s fairly admirable given the uphill battle they sometimes face with Dreyer’s lyrics (how do you write music for lines like, “And I hope you see us - your wife and your children and I - buried in the wreckage of your crime”?). They have always struck a perfect balance between restraint and heaviness, and on this album they continue the trend started on Wildlife of coming up with chord progressions that are both inventive and beautiful. “For Mayor In Splitsville” is the closest the band has ever come to writing a traditionally catchy song, with Dreyer coming to life as a singer and exercising a little vocal swagger. The same can be said of “Stay Happy Here,” which hits hard musically and vocally but still contains moments where Dreyer sings where he may have chosen to scream if the song appeared on an earlier record.

Those who decry Dreyer for writing lyrics that are “too serious” probably love The Hotelier’s new record (“the sight of your body made me feel uncomfortable”), or heard Ghost Mice literally say that “there ain’t nothing wrong with trying to kill the President,” and thought nothing of it. (And you can’t tell me that the Ghost Mice line is tongue-in-cheek. That entire album deals in a very serious way with attitudes toward mental illness. There’s no way that “John and Jodie” wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, because the alternative is a song that makes mental illness sound like a cute inconvenience.) It seems that some think there is inherently a problem with writing only serious songs, but it seems to me that the problem is the same one that occurs in any genre: bad songs. You can track the evolution of La Dispute very clearly from album to album, and there has never been an issue with their music that they haven’t easily overcome with the addition of a few more years of experience. But no matter how hard they try, no matter how sophisticated their music is now, they just can’t seem to shake the stigma of that goddamn medieval rock opera. Their art is imitating the life depicted in their art - always moving forward, never looking back, but still held by the chains of reputation.



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user ratings (509)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SnakeDelilah
March 18th 2014


7850 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thank you based chan for this awesome review

Digging: Sun Kil Moon - Benji

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2014


50500 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

great album

Tyrael
March 18th 2014


20893 Comments


< Trebor's soundoff

ti0n
March 18th 2014


1448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

liar

Digging: Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love

treeqt.
March 18th 2014


9704 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

oke

TooLateToGoBack
March 18th 2014


1774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Chan is back, baby

BLUEOmni
March 18th 2014


684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Your reviews are better than ben & jerry's ༼ ❤_❤ ༽

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2014


20857 Comments


No summary + No SoundCloud = Emeritus.

Nice review Free Man.

DirEnRefused
March 18th 2014


2186 Comments


Not a fan of the review. Like, one half is somewhat generic and the other half of it is cynicism about
the band's past, which you write entertainingly but I come away from reading this having little clue
why you gave the album a 4.3.

I personally don't know how I feel about the album. The calm songs are well written but they're not
why I enjoy this band. Stay Happy There is fantastic though.

Guzzo10
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2014


1061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Take out the 'and' in "and album that" in the first paragraph. Otherwise great review senior

Skoj
March 18th 2014


1183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Channing comes through again

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2014


6194 Comments


First paragraph about people in small towns and reputation is so true. Great review.




Digging: Alkoholizer - Free Beer... Surf's Up!!!

fallenbird
March 18th 2014


3943 Comments


So is this better than their previous material because the average ratings would tell me otherwise?

fallenbird
March 18th 2014


3943 Comments


This my friends is why you don't Sputnik on an ipad

treeqt.
March 18th 2014


9704 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

no it's not how could it possibly be

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2014


10269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

So is this better than their previous material because the average ratings would tell me otherwise?

please don't actually listen to this site's aggregate ratings for your opinions

DanielNightLewis
March 18th 2014


552 Comments


This album is an improvement. From completely insufferable to just plain old boring.
Maybe in a few albums time they can graduate to good.

DrMaximus
March 18th 2014


9534 Comments


please don't actually listen to this site's aggregate ratings for your opinions [2]

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2014


10269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

for real tho, I'm not sure i will ever enjoy La Dispute as much as the song below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz2umuRhXK4

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2014


23900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I love "Somewhere..." but somehow don't disagree with anything you say here. Excellent review.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes



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