The Siren Tower
A History of Houses



by slowmotioncentury USER (1 Reviews)
July 12th, 2014 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Just like visiting Australia, but with less snakes and more guitars.

The best art contains multitudes. The things that mean something to us become more than just a book or a film or a song; they become evocations, resonating with us in ways as inexplicable as they are profound. We’ve all got them: the breakup songs, the songs for when we want to come up or down, the songs we heard as children, the songs we want played at our funerals, and a thousand more.

All of which is a roundabout way of explaining why A History of Houses, a) hits like a ton of bricks, and b) will get under your skin and stay there.

On one level, you could just call this a folk-rock album. The instrumentation and general affect aren’t a million miles away from the likes of Mumford and Sons and fellow countryman John Butler, but to label A History of Houses*so narrowly does it a disservice- there is so much more here than just another exercise in semi-acoustic arcana. The album has an immediacy to it, a balance between melancholy and urgency that recalls the best traditions of folk music while simultaneously remembering that sometimes you just need to rock the f*** out, and you know what? Everything will be better tomorrow. And if it isn’t, hey, at least we’ve got guitars.

These are the kind of songs that you get drunk and sing with your friends at closing time, or around a campfire, or just because you feel like making some noise. They’re things that you wrap around yourself and warm yourself by, and at least two of them- Floods, and The Road- are as perfect in form and execution as anything you could ever hope to hear. The former is an exercise in tension and release anchored by a stomping beat and a surging, propulsive rhythm section, while the latter is built around Grant McCulloch’s intense vocal and moves sleekly between a soaring chorus that you can sway along to and verses that evoke blue-collar Australia better than anything in recent memory.

This might, in fact, be the most evocatively Australian album since Augie March’s Sunset Studies. There are references here to Bendigo, North Mackay and Jindabyne, all places that have their own distinct identity in the Australian consciousness, as well as talk of the Kokoda Trail, country life, and mining culture. It works because it’s not a forced exercise in Australiana- it feels genuine, and the narratives at the hearts of songs like The Banishing Of William McGuinness*and All Things Much Change*speak straight to the core of a culture built around storytelling, individualism, and the concept of the battler.
The best art contains multitudes, and that’s what you’ll find here; these aren’t just songs, but reflections of a culture, a time, and a place, inviting you to recognise something of yourself in them and come away feeling somehow more than you were.


And if you’ve never been to Australia, honestly, this is a pretty good place to start.

user ratings (9)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 12th 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

Album is awesome agreed

July 12th 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

Sorry for the screwy formatting with some of the review text- working off a mobile. Will fix later...

July 12th 2014


awesome album

July 12th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules, and nice review.

October 7th 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

jeez this is starting to border onto being a 5, so good

July 3rd 2017


Album Rating: 5.0

this is criminally under-looked

can't wait to hear new tunes from these guys

August 27th 2019


Album Rating: 4.5

Ok this is fantastic. Dang, any news on their sophomore album?

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