Review: The Hotelier- Goodness (Tiny Engines)

Posted: July 18, 2016 in Reviews

Goodness cover art

The Hotelier are part of the burgeoning modern emo scene and are probably the cream of that crop. This scene is trying to re-ignite some of the passion and emotional rawness that formed such a key part of the ‘90s emo scene. Certainly, The Hotelier’s previous LP Home, Like No Place is There took obvious inspiration from that time and place, as well as from the later-era, more hook-y stuff from The Get Up Kids and Brand New. However, the band have really branched out on their new one, Goodness, which is, for all intents and purposes, an indie record.

There retains an ‘emotional’ element to The Hotelier’s sound and lyrics, but it is not really an emo record per se. While I like the old stuff well enough, at times, they tried a little too hard there to have that typical voice from the emo scene. With Goodness, The Hotelier have really managed to hone an identity of their own, a record which sonically transcends a number of different genres (something that La Dispute managed to do well, with their excellent Rooms of the House LP). The vocals are still nasal, but otherwise, musically and lyrically, things have moved up a few notches. The sound of the modern Hotelier is slow-paced, considerate and passionate, with lyrics that are much more down to earth and feel real. Some of the lyrics are pure poetry (but not the teenage kind): “But if you choose too it’s a honest move/ and I guess that it makes for no deferences./ There’s a gleam of blue from a cold night’s moon/ Just a touch too soon, Two Deliverances.”, virtually dripping with passion on “Two Deliverances”. Sometimes, the lyrics remain heart-breakingly simple, as is sung out with voice-breaking, wraught emotion on “Settle the Scar”: “I should’ve asked if you could stay/ I should’ve found a way around it/ because now all I see is grey/ all trapped in memories that surround it”. Probably, the most memorable song on Goodness is the hook-laden, acoustic-led “Opening Mail for My Grandmother”, a fucking gut-punching, tragedy of ageing and losing senses: “I’m coming for you/ Your beautiful brightness, perpetually new/ So old in your body, the youth’s in your mood”.

I guess that sums up the overall ‘mood’ of the album, clinging onto something, even when perhaps it doesn’t want to be clung onto, but clinging nevertheless, “with knuckles white”, as there doesn’t seem to be another option. There are other interesting moments on Goodness, like “Sun”, is about the glorious ray of light given to you by a loved one, with the choral chant of “sun” a constant reminder of this close affection. The whole album is interspersed by spoken word poetry of “I see the moon” (and the moon sees me). I am not quite sure how it fits in with the music on Goodness, but it’s quite cool nevertheless. Sonically and lyrically, this is a fascinating record that I have only begun to unravel. It’s about seeing life, “in exploding colour”, in all its complexities, in all its heart-breaking, fucking tragedy. And then there’s that album cover…

Check it out: https://thehotelier.bandcamp.com/album/goodness

DB

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