The Hotelier - Goodness - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Hotelier - Goodness

by David Bruggink Rating:8 Release Date:2016-06-10

I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, but there was a period when I was pretty thoroughly sunk into the brash romanticism of emo, exemplified by bands like Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, American Football, and others that appeared to be living out the suburban American teenager ideal. Now that I'm listening to supposedly more mature (but probably even more depressing) things like experimental electronic music and chamber jazz, I was curious to know if emo still could have an impact on me. 

The Hotelier are one of the best examples of today's emo renaissance (hmm...it seems odd that those two words could be next to each other and not burst into flames). They're one of a pack of solid bands like Modern Baseball and Hop Along that are helping to carry the torch of indie rock and pop punk, and receiving press from the likes of Pitchfork and The New York Times. 

I think it's worth noting that the new Hotelier album cover is a photo of a gaggle of nude older folks who all appear to be really enjoying their existence. It's difficult not to be fascinated by the biological stuff going on in the picture, and it makes you think for a split second that the Hotelier might be the hottest new Pagan folk band. Goodness does have a few interludes on the artsier side, but this is an album that conforms pretty well to emo expectations - in all the right ways.

When I was into emo, I always had to pretentiously distinguish myself by explaining that I was into the good kind of emo, and not the shameful Good Charlotte or New Found Glory kind. If only the Hotelier had been around then, as they bring out all of emo's best qualities, and end up transcending that label altogether. 
 
Most of the songs of Goodness have an infectious energy to them, in part because the band seem to play everything like their lives depend on it. Vocalist Christian Holden alternates between good-natured shouting and humble singing that almost has a conversational ease to it. Chris Hoffman's guitar is powerful but not aggressive, often gorgeous, creating resplendent tones that bring to mind the blissful state indicated on the album cover. The drumming by Sam Frederick reminds me of the complex and pummeling patterns that Josh "Cobra" Baruth played on The Appleseed Cast's emo classic Mare Vitalis
 
Though the album is often high-energy, these moments are balanced by a more reflective and placid side that comes to the surface in its aforementioned interludes. Other songs also contain a kind of push-pull between these two poles: 'Sun' features an extended section that invites the listener to drift into a meditative state on nothing but a repeating guitar chord resting on an ambient haze. 
 
But the album as a whole is bursting with indie rock that doesn't waste a note. 'Piano Player,' 'Soft Animal' and especially 'Settle the Scar' are just a few examples that prove that emo can still be powerful and authentic.

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