As the year slowly but surely comes to a close, there have been a few records that have really stood out to me this year. La Dispute’s Rooms of the House has shot straight to the top of my list shortly after its release and has remained a firm favorite of 2014.
I’ve been obsessed with (post-)hardcore since my teenage years, so it is no surprise that over time, I discovered Michigan-bred La Dispute and their unique, hard-hitting sound and brutally honest lyrics. While I have liked enjoyed releases such as their 2011 record Wildlife in passing, there has been something about their latest album that stopped me dead in my tracks.
After copious listening sessions, I think I have pinpointed why this album touches me the way it does.
The album’s concise and super-tight instrumentation grabs you by the throat (though not as hard as earlier releases) and does only let up occasionally, allowing you small gasps of air that punctuate the track list with moodier, slower songs like the renditions of ‘Woman (In Mirror)’ and ‘Woman (Reading), or the closing track ‘Objects in Space’. Spoken word pieces like these highlight Jordan Dryer’s frighteningly accurate observations of everyday life, making ordinary actions and interactions the focus of his lyrics and bringing forward the intricacies of human relationships.
These observations are off-set by the extraordinary event of a bridge collapsing, a motif that comes up again and again and marks the topic of the more frantic, hard hitting and eerie songs like ’35’ or ‘Hudsonville, MI 1956’. Other songs like ‘First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice’ and ‘For Mayor in Splitsville’ intersperse seemingly autobiographical snippets that provide the connection between commonplace occurrences and the catastrophic accident through Dryer’s ruminations on smaller but similarly striking events.
What makes this album so special to me is the accuracy with which ordinary lives are presented in the face of an extraordinary event. Along with the discernably post-hardcore aesthetic the band provides, this record manages to convey a feeling of urgency, panic, and reflection that resonates with the observant listener and – at best – stays with them much longer than eleven songs.