The Hotelier’s 2014 album ‘Home, Like NoPlace is There’ brought them to the attention of a rabid, adoring fan base. With deeply personal lyrics and stirring anthemic music, they sit happily alongside the likes of recent tour mates Into It. Over It. and The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die in the increasingly incredible US punk scene. Now, after two years of touring they’re unveiling their eagerly awaited third album ‘Goodness’. Will it be as evocative and inspiring as their previous work?
Surprisingly, there’s not a blast of guitar to open the album but rather a spoken-word piece named after the coordinates ‘N 43° 59′ 38.927″ W 71° 23′ 45.27’ (somewhere in New Hampshire, if you were wondering). There is paper shuffling and poetic elements as the voice first states ‘we sit and we talk, not of much but of little’ and then goes on to say ‘I would smile but it would be meaningless’ and finally ‘This place speaks, it makes no demands of nothing’. Already, you know that Christian Holden and The Hotelier have lost none of their emotional impact. They follow this up with ‘Goodness pt. 2’, which finds Christian singing over some huge drums about how ‘there’s a kind and immediate hushing’ and how ‘we are naked at best and alone’. Recalling early R.E.M. wrestling with Saves the Day, there is talk of promised lands and effects of rainfall as the music speeds up and then the defining statement ‘When this began, this was a thing that we could both share’.
The dream-like ‘Piano Player’ opens and this one finds The Hotelier dipping into a more traditional rock and roll sound. With talk of age and life, there are also elements of Hop Along as the song focuses on some distinct and compelling characters. As Christian sings ‘You always said you don’t dance’ and then ‘There’s room enough for both of us, so stay’ you can’t help root for him. ‘Settle the Scar’ has more of a Kinsella vibe with its jangly, intricate guitars and intriguing metaphors: ‘Taking pages from a book I couldn’t see your face in, guess the author was a crook’. As it builds up, there are distorted moments (a key feature throughout the record) that will make you jump and look to check it’s all working. Maybe it’s to show that, like life, you can’t get through things without bumps along the way?
‘Opening Mail for My Grandmother’ is a poignant and personal look at the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. It opens by recalling the fond memories as children grow up and even compares a grandmother to royalty (‘Start the next postcard, share the news, your highness has spoken’) before then changing tack and saying how ‘they’re making arrangements’; ‘Sunrise apartment, incredible view of birds that keep chirping, coming for you’ and it’s hard to hold back tears as Christian describes his grandmother being taken into a home, especially as the music slows down and the words ‘I’m coming for you, your beautiful brightness’ are sang with huge passion. ‘Sun’ opens in a Blur or Pavement-style slice of indie rock while Christian romantically asks ‘Will you lay with me when the sun hits right?’ and ‘Will you lay with me forever?’ During an instrumental breakdown and at around three minutes in, the title of the track is sung in a drone style while the bass and drums drive the song into a climax that TWIABP would be proud of. As this occurs, the same words are repeated from earlier but this time with more gusto and passion.
‘You in this Light’ finds the band veering into a mix of Brand New-style emo and power-pop. Probably the most direct song on the album, it has a melody you’ll instantly fall for. The record finishes appropriately enough with ‘End of Reel’, an touching piece with chiming guitars and elements of latter-day Los Campesinos! as the music swells and choral sing-alongs combine to devastating effect.
Full of personal stories and important themes, ‘Goodness’ is an album that will surely see The Hotelier continue their rise from cult favourite to one of today’s most important and essential bands.