In 1992 English artist Damien Hirst premiered one of his most well known pieces of work, a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde and enclosed in a glass structure. He titled it The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living. The shark looked ferocious, ready to strike, yet frozen in time, exhibiting exactly what the title declared. He faced much criticism for this piece, with people declaring “A dead shark isn’t art” and “Anyone could have done this artwork”. When addressed with the latter, Hirst responded, “But you didn’t, did you?”
La Dispute has always been the shark soaked in formaldehyde. The post-hardcore five piece has always addressed tense subjects such as mortality in an immature, straightforward declaration, and Rooms Of The House is no different in this aspect. The album revolves around the house mentioned in the namesake, telling stories of what would be simple rooms and highways, where devastating events occurred that changed the way the narrator – in this case, vocalist Jordan Dreyer – saw these things forever.
Dreyer has never shined for his ability as much as his storytelling, but Rooms Of The House is Dreyer at his best in every avenue. His vocal control has grown; as much as his crescendos and decrescendos have always been his forte, they have become more apparent in every line opposed to the obvious transitional moments La Dispute’s music makes room for. Dreyer even begins to hit different notes on “For Mayor In Splitsville”, a half-narrative half-angsty breakup anthem for the unconventional. However, it’s his quietest moments that hit the hardest, such as “Woman (Reading)”, in which his tone shows just as much vulnerability as the lyrics, and closing track “Objects In Space”, in which Dreyer speaks in nostalgia of the house that inspired all the stories, gathering his things over soft instrumentation, drenched in formaldehyde and waiting for it to serve its purpose.
Rooms Of The House is a juvenile album for the matured mind, knowing the regression and reflection is part of growing up.
Sure, the “DARLING/LOVER” days are long over, but La Dispute addresses the topic of love frequented on Somewhere Between The River Of Vega And Altair multiple times, along with the topic of death frequented in sophomore album Wildlife. But the approach to both subjects has changed: while the aforementioned albums revolved around the subjects and the details were used to emphasize the subjects, Rooms Of The House makes the opposite approach, using the details of the agony to greater detail the attachment to the simplicity of an ordinary home, to give the still shark its teeth.
The band, much like the lyrics, have found a common ground with both Somewhere… and Wildlife, taking the melodies and interesting rhythms that made the debut so interesting and combining them with the abrasiveness of the follow-up. “35” is reminiscent of “King Park”, full of distortion ceasefires demanding attention. The music does not revolve around Dreyer on Rooms Of The House, as he assists every note and rhythm just as well as they assist him. The opening track sums up the chemistry of the experiment, giving every necessary taste without revealing the secret recipe behind it all.
Rooms Of The House is a juvenile album for the matured mind, knowing the regression and reflection is part of growing up. Although the poetry is nearly 7th grade Xanga quality, La Dispute seems to find the perfect complement for accompaniment through their dynamic control and percussiveness to exploit said control. The album may be predictable for a band like La Dispute, and it may be true that anyone could have followed the formula and done what they have done on Rooms Of The House.
But you didn’t, did you?