Overall Score: 7/10 Melodies: 7/10 Songwriting: 7/10 Groove: 6.5/10 Pros: Hands Like Houses most complete sounding release to date Cons: In sounding so consistent, some tracks and moments get lost in the shuffle
Australia’s Hands Like Houses have had a clear curvature progression to their career to this point that step-by-step has become more refined. On their new self-titled EP, Hands Like Houses step out on their own, leaving behind some of their previous sounds and influences which they occasionally wore on their sleeves. This EP summarises the musical progression from their last release (‘Anon’ in 2018) and culminates in a watertight project that knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be going forward.
Originating somewhat as a post hardcore outfit, in the 12 years of Hands Like Houses, the band has shifted their view into a more mainstream aligning rock sound. Whilst previous records have dabbled in other influences, this EP is as straight-up modern rock as it gets and that’s not a bad thing. Though there are still comparisons that can be made to their own influences and personal tastes, with Royal Blood coming to mind, the EP’s sound feels very much authentic to the band that they have become.
The anchor for this sound comes in the steady grooves, upbeat melodies and some electronic/keyboard elements. With a natural voice for this style of rock, vocalist Trenton Woodley seamlessly transitions from maintaining the verse grooves to his big, bright chorus melodies. With lyrics that never attempt to bury the lead, you always know where you’re at with the band and what they’re trying to express. On the track ‘Space’, this is in full effect where the band all feel on the same page, hitting the same beats at the same time. Whilst the track opens with a very open and free feel, Woodley delivers lyrics like “I drag my feet you drag my name, I’m sick of it”. The EP’s just under 15-minute run time feels like a 5-piece jigsaw in how well each track fits together in its own right and as a collective.
Links between the feel of this project and the band’s own music journey are also clear to see. ‘The Water’, which serves as the opening track, is all about sticking to what you know and returning to that familiarity when lost. Musically, the track is very upbeat and gives the lyrics that positive platform to stand on. The fourth song in the tracklist, named ‘The Stranger’, deals with similar subjects but in a more defiant way, coming to the conclusion that you’re not going to fit in all of the time. Both topics feel so authentic and true to Hands Like Houses and the career that they’ve had. The parallels between these tracks and the overall sound of this EP and how the band arrived at it are what makes this project feel so complete.
‘Hands Like Houses’ biggest selling point is also its biggest criticism, in feeling like a complete EP that has one clear direction in mind, some of the tracks don’t stand out against others. There isn’t a point in the runtime that catches you off guard but for a band that seems to have arrived at their own identity and given that it’s a 5-track EP, that’s not much of a hindrance. 30 Seconds of any of the tracks will let you into if this is worth your time or not.
Whether it aligns with your tastes musically or not, this feels like a band that knows what they want to be and with this release, are taking that step forward. On their self-titled EP, Hands Like Houses have carved themselves a pocket and for 15 minutes, they’re inviting you in to come and live with them in it.
‘Hands Like Houses’ the self-titled EP is available now via Hopeless Records / UNFD.