Welcome back to "Let's actually listen to albums!" This time, I'm checking out the Hotelier (formerly the Hotel Year) and their new album "Home, Like Noplace, Is There." I'd heard this band mentioned but have never listened to their previous stuff.
[bandcamp] - The Hotelier's bandcamp
The record opens with "An Introduction To The Album" (an Is A Real Boy reference?) which is a sparkly, ambient track with an almost hymnal vocal melody. The track loops and looms for a few minutes before blowing up with guitars and harsher, yelled vocals. Second track "The Scope Of All This Rebuilding" rips open with a monster hook, quickly rolling into a back-and-forth vocal session that reminds me of the best Taking Back Sunday tracks but the song doesn't stay stuck on any of those things, jumping between ideas as fast my my brain can grab onto them. I like that a lot. The next song, In Framing, sounds like a straight-up alty-punk song, Against Me or Gaslight Anthem, or something of that nature. It's definitely solid but doesn't grab me as much as the previous tracks since it sounds a bit more conventional to my ear. Lyrics are another story, seems to be a harrowing story of a friend's suicide, rolling into the next song. "Your Deep Rest" is a raw confessional track, lyrics about guilt over a friend's death over a track which forms one shape for the first half of the song, wrenching itself sideways as the singer recalls the friend's words to him. "Among The WIldflowers" seems to bring an end to that storyline, starting somber and building to a breaking point with the lyrics "will you fall on your blade just to hear when I'm saying I cant?" The song then turns into a post-hardcore excoriation, a stacatto pounding riff driving behind the screamed vocals until the track falls away, noise wavering behind a young voice answering questions about bullying with heartbreaking sincerity and innocence. Life in Drag basically gives you a heart-attack right after that, The song is vicious in its tearing down of another, but it's hard for me to figure out the story here, the lyrics are less specific than on the previous songs... fits the guardedness of the song's protagonist, though. Anyway, it's probably the most intense (musically) song on this record so far. Then "Housebroken" comes in like another road-worn punk song, using metaphor of how a dog is treated to take aim at a few different social and political targets. "Discomfort Revisited" returns to a more traditionally emo palette to tell the tale of someone who admitted themselves to a mental facility. Might be my favorite song on the record, actually, because that chorus is so powerful both musically and narratively. Final song "Dendron" pulls a lot of vocal trade-off tricks and structural/stylistic shifts, starting off as a straightforward punk song, shedding its skin slowly and leaving just a heavily reverbed twinkle as the song builds back up, guitars pounding everything into submission until we're left with a single voice and a single guitar... this builds again, neatly summing up every story that had been told throughout the record until it all falls a part, a gentle acoustic guitar echoing the first track... maybe implying there's something cyclical to all of this tragedy.
So, I need to listen to this record more times with the lyrics in front of me to really make sure I grasp what's going on in each track. Each song has its own story here, and the sum of all of them seems to build up in that final track, but there were a few parts that I didn't quite get just from this first listen. I will say this, though: Hovering under all the tragedy on the record there's a sense of hope, beaten down and bloodied, but dragging itself along. It's something a lot of records strive for but this one evokes that more strongly than anything I have listened to in a while. Thanks to everyone who told me I needed to hear this record, you were very very right.