La Dispute, Rooms of the House (Better Living)
Michigan-based La Dispute has earned a reputation over the last decade as one of modern rock’s most dynamic bands, crafting a sound based on contrasting, angular guitars, manic drum beats and half-spoken, half-screamed vocals. On its third full-length studio album—which details a fictional couple’s unceremonious breakup—the quintet builds on its sonic signature, but takes it in a more melodic, structured direction to make Rooms of the House La Dispute’s most listener-friendly album yet. Vocalist and lyricist Jordan Dreyer—who typically delivers rambling blasts of hyper-articulate poetry—actually veers toward writing proper song lyrics, delivering them with the music instead of over it, especially apparent on the quiet, rolling “Woman (in Mirror)” and the almost-catchy, up-tempo “Extraordinary Dinner Party.” ★★★★★
Kaiser Chiefs, Education, Education, Education & War (ATO Records)
On its fifth go-round, English post-punk crew Kaiser Chiefs has recorded a collection of songs connected by quasi-political undertones and aural fists throttled toward The Man. It’s not new territory for the Leeds-spawned quintet, but the 10 tracks on Education, Education, Education & War do crackle with renewed urgency. Songs such as opener “The Factory Gates” and “Coming Home” are barely removed from their 1980s influences, while others (“Ruffians on Parade”) trade in Kaiser Chiefs’ signature textural guitars, hyper rhythms and vocal panache, but surprises abound, including the epic, metal-tinged “Cannons” (ending with a two-minute poem, “The Occupation,” recited by actor Bill Nighy) and “Roses,” the solemn, slow-burn album closer. ★★★★✩
The Used, Imaginary Enemy (Anger Music Group)
Revolution is in the air these days, so maybe it’s not surprising that album No. 6 for The Used kicks off with an anthemic, charging track titled—what else?—“Revolution.” It sets the tone for a slickly produced disc packed with borderline sophomoric rants against capitalism, consumerism, the War on Terror—really, at whatever The Used can target its leftover adolescent angst. After getting straightforward, radio-friendly songs such as “Cry” and “Generation Throwaway” out of the way, the album dips its toes into more esoteric material such as “A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression,” which alternates between thrash-y verses and a funk-tinged chorus, and the percussion-driven, almost atmospheric “Force Without Violence,” but overall, Imaginary Enemy doesn’t deliver the revolution it calls for. ★★★✩✩
Upcoming on Pj’s radar …
MAY 6: It’s a big day for new albums from female solo artists: including a self-titled disc from Natalie Merchant, her first all-original album in 13 years; Sarah McLachlan’s latest, Shine On; I Never Learn from Swedish wunderkind Lykke Li; and the third full-length from Lily Allen titled—yes, for real—Sheezus.
MAY 12: Canadian duo Chromeo lays down a fresh slab of electro-funk on White Women.
MAY 13: Indie rock pioneer Guided By Voices releases its second studio album of 2014, Cool Planet.