In a recent Pitchfork article centring on Modern Baseball, they talk about how emo has “grown up”. The days of ragging on girls rejecting advances are over and the connotations of lyrics has to be thought about and modified accordingly. Frontman of The Hotelier Christian Holden is namechecked and he gives his two cents in the piece, stating how he regrets the way he presented some messages in his songs (he mentions how “we must keep our bitches in line” from Housebroken sounds too close to being about domestic abuse than its actual subject of police abuse). But now The Hotelier have grown up themselves and are releasing third album Goodness. And the naked people on the cover are not just something to giggle like schoolkids at – they represent just how open and soul-bearing Holden has been on this record.
While Two Deliverances – a straight-up linear rock song – is a high point on this album, a lot of the songs on Goodness fall into the ‘slow burner’ category, and it’s in no way a bad thing. The majority of these tracks benefit immensely from the rising and falling they go through and are standouts by a country mile. Settle The Scar comes to mind immediately, as it sees lots of subtle dynamic changes which contribute to a subdued but still powerful effect. Soft Animal begins with a jarring riff and progresses to a more intense vibe by the end, complete with hushed choir accompaniments. The crescendos at the core of this album also allow for the different aspects of the band’s sound and partnering emotive influences to shine through. Sun is practically in two parts – the slow, serene build-up and the warm yet angsty climax which showcases a raspier vocal from Holden seen more on 2014’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There.
That being said, there are moments on Goodness which don’t shine quite as brightly as the ones mentioned. Although the slow burner thing works most of the time, Goodness Pt.2 takes a bit too long to truly kick in (though when it does it’s great), and Piano Player drifts too far into monotone territory to redeem itself by the end. Opener “N 43° 59′ 38.927″ W 71° 23′ 45.27”, a 49 second spoken poem, is also sure to divide listeners into the “it’s so pretentious, I hate it” and “it’s so deep, I love it” camps.
But for the most part, Goodness does exactly what it says on the tin. It may not pack a punch instantly, but lyrical themes displaying a more positive yet still unsure of themselves Hotelier are certainly ones that will stay with you long after the needle stops spinning. While it may not match the standard set by Home, Like NoPlace Is There, it’s the start of a promising new direction for The Hotelier, both career-wise and personally.
For fans of: Pianos Become The Teeth, Foxing, Tiny Moving Parts
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Goodness’ by The Hotelier is released on 27th May on Tiny Engines.