October 19, 2020 Hands Like Houses – Hands Like Houses (EP Review)
Canberra, Australia’s Hands Like Houses has been making melodic music for just over a decade now. Their 2012 full-length debut, Ground Dweller, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, and was followed by 2013’s Unimagine, 2016’s Dissonants, and 2018’s Anon., establishing the band as a solid contender on the scene. Back home, ARIA success followed as the five-piece band garnered themselves critical acclaim, sold-out tours, and a dedicated legion of global fans.
Blending Pop Rock sensibilities with heavier influences, Hands Like Houses—Vocalist Trenton Woodley, Guitarists Matt Cooper and Alexander Pearson, Bassist Joel Tyrrell, and Drummer Matt Parkitny—has created their own unique style of Alt Rock that amalgamates sing-along worthy melodies, catchy riffs, funky bass-lines and atmospheric synths. This is really no different on their latest, the eponymous Hands Like Houses EP, which arrives on Friday, October 23, 2020 thanks to UNFD.
Conceptually, the collection—which was created over a swift 10-day period—allows Woodley to get vulnerable while he explores the many collisions of life. The vocalist explains, “It’s always really resonated with me, that idea that it’s a pretty lonely existence if we hang by ourselves, that there’s a certain kind of music that comes from colliding with other ideas and other people. Even if your natural impulse, like mine, is to be away from people, life is only meaningful because of those collisions.”
This idea sits at the heart of the five-songs, which begin with rocker “The Water.” Here, bass anchors the lush melodies of a track that shows a refined Hands Like Houses. Undeniably catchy, it hones the quintet’s craft to perfection while setting the stage for another shining moment, “Space.” Delivering more atmosphere and edge, a sound that could fit perfectly among Anon., this is a plea for breathing room—not an ode to NASA—that is apt to be an instant favorite among fans.
Interestingly, “Dangerous” pairs these two sound profiles into something that’s further refined, losing the sonic grit of its predecessor as Woodley explores the idea of being a walking tension bomb ready to blow. This establishes the exhaustion of “Wired,” where deeper vocals echo Tyrrell’s bold bass in the dreamy Pop Rocker. Ultimately, this all leads to the ominous groove of “Stranger,” the grand finale that sees the band turning away from their screens as they combine chugging guitars, thrumming synths, and a full sound that’s intentionally mega-infectious.
Five songs is not much, quantitatively speaking. But with the tension, anxiety, and vulnerability on the Hands Like Houses EP, there’s a world of experiences on display. Heavy with unfiltered expression, genre-hopping, and relatable material, these five songs show a band who have reached beyond their previous efforts and are approaching their creative zenith. Shunning formula and genre conformity, Hands Like Houses are deliciously dangerous on their latest EP. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Hands Like Houses’ eponymous EP 5 of 5 stars.