Anon, by Hands Like Houses
Suggested by Rob Catton
“And the prize for Most Oddball Band Name goes to…” *opens envelope* “…Hands Like Houses! Congratulations, guys, please join me up on stage to collect your award. Come on folks, let’s give them a big hand! … Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to be insensitive there. House-Hand Syndrome is real, folks. I’ve an uncle with a thumb like a bungalow.”
Knowing nothing about Hands Like Houses going in, I was pleasantly surprised to find an accomplished Pop Rock band. A Pop Rock band that’s not afraid to flex its muscles and throw out a variety of different song-shaped poses in order to win us over.
The album opens strongly, and hardly lets up, with the first three tracks being standout to me. If pressed, the bouncy Monster just edges it over the more reflective Sick as my personal favourite. That’s not to say the other songs are notably weaker. Every song has something to offer, insinuating a variety of rock styles from pop-tinged dance-tainted foot tappers to teen rebellion anthems, to straight out metal in places. There’s a lot to like, whatever your pleasure.
I have two issues with Anon, and the first is an issue I can’t exactly quantify. It’s an enjoyable album, and I’d happily return to it down the line, but there is a disquieting sense of manufacture about it that I can’t pin down. There’s a weird sheen that conjures up images of boy bands or Simon Cowell. While the middleweight rocky tracks smack of the polish of Busted or McFly, I can almost hear Olly bloody Murs in the lighter tracks. As such, I come away feeling a touch suspicious of the album’s intent.
The other issue I have with this album is the quality of the lyrics. They are unapologetically self-absorbed, descending into Emo territory a little too readily. I feel that spending a cheeky weekend in the Land of Teenage Poetry is absolutely fine, but Hands Like Houses appear to own multiple properties there. When you couple that with my manufactured music theory above, the whole project comes across as sinister.
Even with these misgivings, I’m giving Anon a provisional 7/10. No matter the intent, the songs are still energetic and fun, and that’s what we are here for after all. Like the best pop rock, Anon fizzes delightfully on the tongue. It won’t fill you up, but it’ll crackle in your head for hours after it has gone.