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Desert Island Disc Challenge: La Dispute ‘Rooms of the House’

Mixing fictitious stories with real life experiences, a tale of lives lived together.

Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to take on the age-old challenge of choosing one piece of music they would like to have with them if they were stranded on a deserted island. It’s an absurd notion, but also irresistible. See all the different approaches they took to the challenge right over here.

Ever seen Castaway, Taxi Driver, or The Shining? If you have then you’ve seen what isolation can do to a person.

It’d take something pretty entertaining and diverse to distract the mind from the maddening solitude that comes with being the lone survivor of a tropical tragedy. Coupled with the fact that it’s my favorite album from my favorite band, I’d face down the Desert Island Disc challenge with La Dispute’s 2014 album Rooms of the House. 

The 11 tracks range from the high energy near hardcore style that brought the band’s initial notoriety, to slower and more experimental. That becomes clear when the temp changes from the slow and solemn vibe of “35” directly into the fast paced, highly energetic album standout “Stay Happy There”.

Rooms of the House is easily the band’s most mature offering, telling the story of the devolution of a relationship between a cohabiting couple in the group’s hometown of Michigan.

From important milestone such as road trips and hosting holiday functions, to seemingly insignificant memories of lazy days spent together, the album takes you on a journey with a couple trying to create a life with one another. This is done by mixing fictitious stories with real life experiences from the band’s frontman Jordan Dreyer.

Vocalist Dreyer takes an interesting approach in detailing how the relationship dissolves, which he discussed in an interview with Noisey.

College Media Network Desert Island Disc Challenge: La Dispute 'Rooms of the House'

La Dispute vocalist Jordan Dreyer

“To a degree. I hesitate to say completely, because I don’t want to give the impression that the story is based on something that I’ve gone through. I’ve never lived with another person and that was a big thing I was thinking about at the time – what happens when those objects become shared property and then that relationship disintegrates”.

Dreyer is no stranger to blending real life events into his songs. La Dispute has been heavily praised for being potentially the best lyricists in the alternative genre, creating an incredibly emotional discography filled with stories ranging from mangled relationships to mental illness stemming from gang warfare.

One of the things I find most interesting about this album is that in addition to its aforementioned running narrative, small breaks are taken to provide the listener with tales from the past focusing on former inhabitants of the couple’s home as well as the town they are living in.

These stories span out over the course of a number of decades and provide the listener with an interesting perspective as to how people come and go, while objects remain frozen in time, seeing the evolution of a number of different lives.

The record concludes with the narrator cleaning his possessions and leaving only memories from a home, while lamenting over the failed relationship that he attempted to build in this space.

The ending is concrete, but provides a sense of cautious optimism, which ties in nicely to the secondary tale of the house, waiting frozen in time for the beginning of its next story.

Sample Rooms of the House below. Desert Island optional.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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