La Dispute – Rooms of the House

I hope I don’t offend any La Dispute fans, but I find it hard to describe them as a real band in the typical sense. The band is all about vocalist Jordan Dreyer, their songs are more like stories set to music, and compared to the lyrics the music really is secondary. ‘Rooms of the House’ goes someway to altering this, but with mixed results.

First track ‘Hudsonville, MI 1956’ is a strong opener and immediately introduces you to La Dispute’s style. A harrowing tale of a young couple separated during the tornado outbreak that killed 18 people in 1956 Michigan. Second track ‘First Reactions After Falling Though The Ice’ is similar, and another strong song.

The first glimpse of a slower La Dispute is with ‘Woman (In Mirror)’. This song is a lot more measured, and relies more on the music to lead the song. It’s not bad, but seems a bit out of place compared to the heavier songs around it. Nevertheless ‘Woman (In Mirror)’ serves as a preview of things to come.

Half way through the album, ‘35’ shows another attempt at a more melodic song, but this time the balance is right, and it’s one of the best songs on the album. Again, the topic is depressing; a bridge full of cars collapsing, but the tone of the song works with the lyrics. The album picks up pace again for a couple of songs, but unfortunately it begins to taper off fairly early though. The final three tracks are all slower songs where the lyrics again take a back seat. ‘Woman (Reading)’ and ‘Extraordinary Dinner Party’ are forgettable, whereas final track ‘Objects in Space’ shows an improvement over the last two songs, and is a good closing track for the album.

Overall, ‘Rooms of the House’ is a good album, and as far as La Dispute go, this album is probably more accessible than earlier releases. I recommend anyone who fancies a mix of At The Drive-In and Boysetsfire and hasn’t listened to La Dispute before, to start with this album. However, if you like it head immediately to their earlier stuff, and you will appreciate it so much more.

For La Dispute fans, several of the songs, in particular ‘First Reactions After Falling Through The Ice’ and ‘Scenes from Highways 1981-2009’, are familiar, but on the whole ‘Rooms of the House’ lacks the anger and vigour from earlier albums ‘Somewhere at the Bottom of the River between Vega and Altair’ and ‘Wildlife’.

– Alex Ryan

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