Review: Hands Like Houses – Ground Dweller

Ground Dweller, the debut album by Australian rock outfit Hands Like Houses, is hands down one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 thus far. Unlike the vast majority of their labelmates, Hands Like Houses are a completely scream-free machine, opting instead to go the route of previously successful acts such as Emarosa and Saosin, combining a charismatic, expressive wail with a backdrop of heavy, intricate instrumentals. The result is superb. Hands Like Houses know exactly what they want to sound like – the album flows smoothly, and feels like a cohesive, well put-together product. The vocal melodies are exceptionally well written, displaying some ambitious vocal acrobatics. Consequently, the band’s choruses are undeniably infectious; Hands Like Houses seem to have absolutely no problems crafting a huge, sing-along hook, but they know when to hold back as well. The only real complaint that can be aimed at this record is that it sounds slightly overproduced – while live recordings reveal that the band are able to pull off their songs without leaning on auto-tune or other gratuitous effects, the entire album just feels a bit too polished. This is, of course, subject to personal preference, but it would probably work to the band’s benefit if they pursued a less saccharine sweet sound on future recordings. Musically, however, Ground Dweller is a very refreshing, rewarding listen; it’s easily one of the best releases to come from Rise Records in recent years. Props to Hands Like Houses for delivering a record that feels truly fresh and different, raising the bar within their scene. Here’s hoping for their success and continued growth in the coming years.


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