La Dispute: Rooms of the house – Review

maison5’s Lisa Says describes the latest La Dispute longplayer using words and pictures:

LISTEN! And read the lyrics.

The problem with La Dispute might be that there has been too much said. It might be possible to place them somewhere in-between, as some post-whatever, reference Slint, Fugazi – but who would want that? The genius of La Dispute is partly to be found in their indefiniteness. The best description might lie within the poetry of the songs themselves:

“The steam a crescendo

Everywhere wind

glass starts to rattle in the window frames

There are

moments of collapse

fall through?

language you make out of looks and names

Tiny dots on an endless timeline

and on and on

A moment


The smallest sounds leave the clearest echoes

a place without time, a loop

inside a songwriter’s dream

Like a scene from a song,

“Born to Run,” or maybe “Running on Empty”

Ones where they would leave

hit the highway and drive

spaces are infinite

a system of roads and there’s nowhere it doesn’t go

landscape aglow

after a collapse



risk it?

Everything tumbling



battle every impulse to panic

In the distant

televisions light up in the night




here still


already gone


A reverence, ancestral, heavy in the air

light with all the shadows combined

What would I name this could I paint it ?

Morning after snowstorm

First the whole picture, then everything individually

Everything itself


A memorial

someone’s reality

memories echo”

For those who are not familiar with La Dispute – it’s the sounds that reveal the poetics of life, touch emotional reflex zones, make a crowd sweat out all their insecurity, anger and love, passion apart from any stereotype, realness apart from any reality, turning the inside out. Music about the ghosts that keep on hunting you, that literally hits and hugs, that gently embraces and pushes you away, stories about what-was, what-if, continually increasing density, immediacy, minutely detailed, observing, obsessive, descriptive, demanding. Momentous music for long night drives in inner motion within a savage composed landscape. Every song a window to a possibility, a parallel reality, as “everything is happening at once”. Melodies we never hear that underline the moments we are never aware of, transient.

home“Rooms of the house”, their third album, is arranged around a conceptual building, time-traveling, with always-returning motifs. Flowing continually from piece to piece through a wide range of layers and moods, an ongoing conversation between the guitars, the rhythm and the spoken is telling us the stories about layers of action within this space. The lyrics will, forever burned into your forehead, be still that rich that every re-listen reveals a new detail that touches another aspect very deep inside.

Of course one could compare this album to the previous ones. There are differences, but rather in personal preferences than in quality. It’s different from the fulminant intensity which was defining the captivating virtue of the first album, with its furious guitars and turbulent breaks, ruptured, immediate, impetuous.

One can state that the voice is less dominant than the second album, that the sound is more homogenous, that there are some rather melodic influences to some songs on the here/hear releases. There are even some nearly lighthearted moments: “Scenes From Highways” is coming along with lucid guitars. And even a bit of nearly conventionally structured pop from the beginning 90s. Songs like “Extraordinary Dinner Parties” or “For Mayor in Splitsville” – a sound going back to the 90s.

The laconic beginning of “For Mayor in Splitsville” is even reminiscent of some early Weezer. The melody of “Extraordinary Dinner Parties” could be some Superchunk.

The clearance is culminating in “Objects in Space”, which can also be seen as a return to the very first recordings: guitar melodies and narrative speech, no pressure, but a clear sight at the top of a hill within a lovely landscape at a bright day.

In general, there is less pressure, the sound is much more subtle, still concerned, but from a distance, without ever neglecting highs and lows, ever losing particularity. And now: Stop analysing, start listening and – read the lyrics.

lisa says

Words and pictures by Lisa Says.