Canberra’s Hands Like Houses have already proven themselves as one of Australia’s strongest rock exports. They’ve toured with the likes of Pierce The Veil and Silverstein, played festivals across the globe, and, most significantly, managed to churn out brilliant record after brilliant record.
They’re experimenting with their sound a little more on their fourth full-length effort, ‘-Anon.’, and, whilst it’s good to see them pushing boundaries, sadly it’s a bit more filler than killer this time around.
‘Kingdom Come’ feels like standard opening fare and is inoffensive enough, but it’s single ‘Monster’ that first signifies a change in the band’s sound. Unfortunately, this particular sound seems to be generic, white-bread stadium rock that sounds like the menu music for a sports video game. Fitting then, that it was the theme song for a WWE event in Melbourne, but Trenton Woodley‘s new found gritty, hard rock style vocals just sound overdone and insincere.
Thankfully, it’s not all this bad. In fact, there are some real highlights. Lead single ‘Overthinking’ is undoubtedly a standout, with its huge infectious hook and groovy riffs from Matt Cooper.
‘Through Glass’ has dreamy pop vibes and some of the more mature and interesting lyrics on the album (“I can only wonder why I can see in colour without you”), whilst the anthemic ‘Tilt’ is a return to the old school Hands Like Houses sound.
When they’re on form, it’s clear that they’re still able to make some of the best rock tracks out there, but on ‘-Anon.’, you’re left having to scrape away the dust to get to the gold underneath. ‘Sick’ is instantly forgettable, and ‘Black’, being the heaviest track on the album, seems to be building towards a crescendo that never quite appears, and ends up falling short of the mark.
On the tracks where they’re pursuing a more radio-friendly indie rock sound, the band have unfortunately lost what made them so unique and exciting. There are glimpses of real genius, but they’re overshadowed by the lacklustre. Is ‘-Anon.’ a bad record? Not really, but Hands Like Houses have proven that they’re capable of so much better than this.