“I understand that I don’t fully understand” bark’s Household’s Joshua Gilbert on ‘Wistern’, the first proper song on ‘Time Spent’, following on from the taut instrumental ‘Safesound’.
As a metaphor, it works perfectly for the dense and challenging sound concocted by these Minnesota upstarts. Mixing melodic hardcore, post-hardcore and emo with flourishes of punk and metal, ‘Time Spent’ is an incredibly brave and confident full-length that jumps around between sounds and scenes with wild abandon yet feels cohesive throughout. You can certainly understand what they’re striving for, even if the methodology leaves you somewhat bewildered.
Part of the sound – or certainly the evolution of it – can be attributed to the vocal polyps Gilbert had to deal with, leading to a change in emphasis away from the heavier sound of 2014’s ‘With Or Without’. It’s definitely a change for the better, showcasing a considerably more dextrous and progressive sound. However, Gilbert’s more melodic vocals may take a little getting used to, sounding on occasions like the fourth member of the Beastie Boys.
That said, more melodic cuts such as ‘Undertow’ are hugely effective alongside the blistering hardcore blasts of ‘Try Hard’ or ‘808’. It’s to Household’s credit that it all hangs together so well.
‘Time Spent’ is cleverly paced too. At 13 songs it feels slightly too long, and a couple of the earlier ‘hardcore’ songs could’ve been cut, yet the latter half of the album in particular is wonderfully diverse. For example, the moody, mid-paced ‘Withered’ breaks the relentlessness, while the endings to both ‘I’ve Been Places’ and ‘Guilty Gone’ are genuinely inspired; the former stripped back and heartfelt, the latter a train of consciousness semi-spoken ramble.
It’s in these moments that Household excel, and there’s similar flashes of inspiration buried throughout. Sometimes it might just be a riff, others it might be Abigail Olsen’s screamed vocals, adding a different texture to the group’s intense sound, yet they all help Household stand out from the crowd.
‘Time Spent’ is by no means perfect – there’s a few lyrics that might make you cringe, and as alluded to, the mid part of the album is punchy but not wholly interesting or engaging – but it’s an album which will appeal to fans of Touché Amore and Old Gray and everything in between.
‘Time Spent’ by Household is out now on Blood & Ink.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)