The Hotelier

Home, Like No Place Is There

Written by: TL on 19/02/2014 10:48:26

Three years ago, fresh young Massachussetts band The Hotel Year released their debut album "It Never Goes Out", making only a very modest splash within the circles that follow the American underground punk rock scene obsessively. While forgotten on album of the year lists then however, the growing feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality of the album must have given it a lasting it presence with others than me, because even after a name change, The Hotelier's second effort "Home, Like Noplace Is There" has had pundits in the music scene standing on their toes in anticipation.

At first, the album's tongue-twisting title might strike you odd - I personally thought it was a nod to Yoda grammar, referencing Star Wars similarly to what Captain, We're Sinking did with "It's A Trap" - but the more I look at the album's artwork, the more I get the feeling that the album is titled like this because there is an actual house like this that inspired it. Similarly, the dismissively titled "An Introduction To The Album" is anything but an opening doodle, developing its gently rocking chord progression across a full four minutes while bassist/singer Christian Holden gradually reveals the measures of urgency he has in store for us, letting an elated desperation bleed into his voice increasingly until he's screaming his throat ragged for the first of several times to come.

It's the first display of a raw emotional vulnerability that permeates the whole album both vocally and instrumentally, yet the overall theme is a puzzle which has the pieces scattered for you to find all over the album. "The Scope Of All This Rebuilding" touches on a schism, seemingly with a family member ("You cut our ropes! Left the umbilical!") and the frustration coming from attempts to repair it, but only two songs later in "Your Deep Rest" someone has died, and on the other side "Life In Drag" and "Housebroken" struggle with reaffirming identity in presence of the void that's left behind.

Of all the songs on "Home..", it's "Your Deep Rest" that immediately steps forth as the tip of the iceberg with a confessional refrain for the ages. "I called in sick from your funeral, the sight of your body made me feel uncomfortable, I couldn't recognise your shell". The lines need to be heard only once to be chiseled into your brains irremovably like an epitaph on a headstone. Holden shows that despite his similarity in tone to Weakerthans vocalist John K. Samson, his delivery unfailingly boils over from understatement into cathartic confessions, like these songs have too much personal meaning to be sung with a straight face. "Life In Drag" in particular stands out here, omitting clean vocals entirely to go for all howling screams like Pianos Become The Teeth and entropic chords like Rites Of Spring.

After "Dendron" eventually closes the album's nine tracks out with a wide-angle emotional purging that forms a fitting destination to "An Introduction To The Album"'s offset, "Home, Like Noplace Is There" is left as a record that has reasons to be replayed coming out of its every seam. The waltz happy anthemic punk instrumentation is spectacularly engaging all across the record, and the simple coordination with Holden's all out vocal delivery is enough to make you want to learn the words to be able to scream along. When you then consider the thematic hints in the cover art, in the song titles and in the lyrical hooks, you have an album that you really want to listen to in full and that you really want to have the lyric booklet for, because it gives you the unmistakable feeling that something heartbreaking has happened here, and the only thing worse would be if you didn't find out what it was. It's clearly an intimate piece of themselves that Holden and his bandmates offer us for a second effort, making us wonder if there's no place as good as home, or if they feel they have no place that feels like home at all. Regardless they've created a coherent album that strikes so deeply at the heart of both emo and punk rock virtues that it's tempting to hold it hostage in discussions of each genre's continued relevancy. Let's not do that though, let's just affirm that this is one you shouldn't miss and an early contender for the 2014 title.


Download: Your Deep Rest, The Scope Of All This Rebuilding, Discomfort Revisited
For The Fans Of: Piebald; The Weakerthans; Captain, We're Sinking; Daytrader, Jimmy Eat World (on "Clarity")

Release Date 25.02.2014
Tiny Engines

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