Critical Voices: La Dispute, Rooms of the House

March 20, 2014


If every band painted a picture to go along with their work, La Dispute would paint a family van flying off a bridge into an icy river for their third full-length release. With Rooms of the House, the Michigan band delivers a thrilling concept album that tells of a married couple slowly falling out of love. By the end, the couple’s house may stand empty and uninviting, but La Dispute’s new musical direction on Rooms of the House is their warmest and most vibrant effort yet.

The foreboding opener “HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956” spells doom for the wife and husband. A savage storm ravages the Midwest and separates the couple for several days. The lyrics on this track paint a vivid picture of wind rattling houses and lightning crashing down from the sky, foreshadowing the couple’s estrangement and inability to communicate their true feelings to each other.

Vocalist Jordan Dreyer is fantastic at narrating the story with emotion and precise word choice. Whether he’s yelling at the top of his lungs or using spoken-word, his poetic delivery remains La Dispute’s greatest strength and most unique feature.

La Dispute have mastered writing music that complements Dreyer’s vivid storytelling. Anchoring the instrumentation is the band’s brilliant rhythm section, which lays down not only memorable and unpredictable drum beats on every song but vibrant bass lines. On “35,” somber guitar notes and a heavy bass throb give way to a crashing symphony of power chords and a series of drum fills.

Compared to La Dispute’s first two albums, Rooms of the House has a much softer tone and a more melodic instrumentation at times. Tracks like “Woman (in mirror)” and “Woman (reading)” feature soft guitar chords and repetitive percussion.

La Dispute’s new melodic tunes demonstrate creativity and add variety to the album. The times when the band dials back the distortion and slows down the hardcore drumming are no less emotional or exciting and give La Dispute a climactic way to dive back into their customary chaos.

In a music world dominated by singles and one-hit wonders, La Dispute’s Rooms of the House is the perfect example of how a cohesive album becomes more than just a collection of songs: it becomes a living story. In the tragedy and wreckage of lost love, La Dispute break back through the frozen river and emerge more creatively invigorated than ever before.


Voice’s Choices: “Stay Happy There,” “Woman (reading)”

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