October 8, 2018 Hands Like Houses – Anon. (Album Review)
They may admittedly be overthinking things, but Hands Like Houses are doing it right and their Hopeless Records’ debut, Anon., is set to arrive to some very happy ears on Friday, October 12, 2018.
It has been ten solid years of rocking for Australia’s Hands Like Houses who formed in Canberra in 2008. Their 2012 full-length debut, Ground Dweller, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, and was followed by 2013’s Unimagine and 2016’s Dissonants, establishing the band as a solid contender on the musical scene. Tours with the truly eclectic likes of Silverstein, Chiodos, Pierce the Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, The Word Alive, Enter Shikari, Beartooth, Palisades, Slaves, In Hearts Wake, and many, many more, have only served to bolster the Hands Like Houses name. Additionally, they are, like so many other great bands, Vans Warped Tour veterans.
Now, Hands Like Houses – Vocalist/Keyboardist Trenton Woodley, Guitarists Matt “Coops” Cooper and Alexander Pearson, Bassist Joel Tyrrell, and Drummer Matt Parkitny – make their Hopeless Records’ debut with Anon. Produced by Colin Brittain (All Time Low, One OK Rock), the 10-song album runs the gamut from Pop Rock to Experimental moments, always with an underlying, generalized Alt Rock categorization. Which just basically means that Hands Like Houses are a Rock band with a zillion influences, and they take the time to explore each nook and cranny of their amalgamated sound profile – expect infectious melodies, funky bass-lines, and a couple bangers.
Anon. begins with Woodley’s vocals soaring on the clap-along beat of “Kingdom Come,” where Hands Like Houses are expressing their fear of falling into the sudden ending. Here, the band have a definite Linkin Park influence that is palpable and deliciously enjoyable, but they go funkier, with distorted edges on rocker “Monster,” the album’s second single/video. Next, they continue this edge with some delicious bass-lines on “Sick,” a rocker reflecting on losing yourself in a relationship, but it’s the ridiculously infectious first single/video “Overthinking” that is guaranteed to lure in listeners and is a perfect example of the Hands Like Houses sound when they’re firing on all cylinders.
They go for full-on Pop sensibilities on “Through Glass” (“You light up the dark in me”), while the guitars crunch on “Half-Hearted,” another killer vocal delivery from Woodley who goes from soaring melody to grit as he sings of the struggles with his other half. The darker, more ominous Rock sound of “No Man’s Land” offers an observational eye toward the world around us and, ultimately, a plea for change. Unfortunately, as is often the case throughout Anon., the sonic layering is not properly fleshed-out and it leads to a kind of muddiness that detracts from what could have been a gut-punching, crisp delivery.
Hands down the heaviest offering on the album, Tyrrell’s bass explodes on “Black,” a dirty, sludgy groove that’s going to shut you up. However, they don’t want you to forget that they can go balls-out, so they continue the heavy, yet infectious attack on “Tilt,” a rocker with bite and sociopolitical dustings. Ultimately, they blend a multitude of sounds and influences into closing number “Bad Dream,” to create something that vacillates between a funky stomp and a full-on rager; a perfect example of a band who draw from a million different facets to create a cross-genre sound that never grows complacent.
The potential is there and, on Anon., Hands Like Houses feel like they are building towards some great precipice that they never quite manage to reach. Perhaps, most importantly, with better production their already big sound could be layered to be absolutely massive and hit like a hurricane; instead, at times, it feels a bit flat. Which is to say that Anon. has its moments and shows a delicious promise, but something is left a little lacking – something that would truly set Hands Like Houses apart from their endless contemporaries and push their band from “catchy” to “unforgettable.” It’s in there, somewhere, now it’s just a matter of digging deep and pulling it out. Maybe it’s time to stop overthinking? For these reasons, CrypticRock give Hands Like Houses’ Anon. 4 of 5 stars.