Music genres, as with anything in life, can reach the point of over-saturation. When a style becomes increasingly dense, the quality often suffers and it can be harder to pinpoint the gems among all the rubbish. We’ve seen this happen with metalcore and pop-punk recently to the point where for every decent new band, you have to wade through twenty embarrassingly mediocre ones. And we might be heading into that situation again thanks to bigger media outlets grasping on to the #emorevival. But as we gaze ahead into that dark future, there is a glimmer of hope that superior bands will cut through and deliver the gems we are searching for. The Hotelier have done that with their new record. Home, Like Noplace Is There is a tremendous album, one that signifies the ceiling of this style of music. Come the end of the year, you will be hard-pressed to find a more powerful record in 2014.
Formerly known as The Hotel Year, Home, Like Noplace Is There acts as a sort of rebirth for The Hotelier. Immediately, “An Introduction to the Album” sets the stage for what is to follow and creates a tangible feeling within the listener, one that consumes you from start to finish. Musically, the album accentuates the band’s use of the contrast between high and low, quiet and loud. Whether it’s in one song or across multiple tracks, there is a constant tension lingering over everything. The sequence of “The Scope of All This Rebuilding” and “In Framing” into “Your Deep Rest” and “Among the Wildflowers” covers the entire spectrum, from up-tempo, pop-punk-leaning affairs (the former pair) to more relaxed and subdued (the latter pair), but the tracks never waver in terms of energy and passion.
“Life In Drag” features vocalist Christian Holden pushing his voice to the very brink in a stunning performance that showcases his unabashed scream dripping with palpable anger and aggression, whereas the following track, “Housebroken”, exemplifies his voice at its most melodic, a much more loosely-wound delivery that still encapsulates a burden of emotion. Home, Like Noplace Is There is intriguing at every turn, and The Hotelier avoids the pitfalls of generic emo. The record has an abundance of sounds, keeping it fresh throughout.
One of the strongest aspects of this record is the lyrics. Home, Like Noplace Is There is a stunningly raw portrait of life, and one that is wielded with such emotion that it can become overwhelmingly powerful at times. “Your Deep Rest”, a bouncy number that draws from a brash quiet/loud dynamic, crushes the listener with lines like “I called in sick/From your funeral/The sight of your family/made me feel responsible/And I found the notes you left behind/Little hints and helpless cries/Desperate wishing to be over,” reiterating an album-wide theme of loss while simultaneously wallowing in guilt and anguish, while “Housebroken” takes a more abrasive, confrontational approach on life’s progression with “Try to take out my claws/Expect a visceral reaction/Try to muzzle me up/I’ll lash out and bite back/And keep my options open/ For fear of becoming housebroken.” The record is chock full of vulnerable musings and that makes Home, Like Noplace Is There an exuberantly heavy-hearted but ultimately relatable piece of music.
The highlights of the record, however, come in the forms of the bookends: the opener, “An Introduction to the Album”, and the closer, “Dendron”. I mentioned that the opening track sets a distinct mood for what follows, and it does so in breathtaking fashion. It is a slow-burning build-up, with simple, glowing guitars and piano accompanying Holden’s rising and falling melody for three and a half minutes until a final, exasperated release into a chaotic conclusion that ends with the tortured repetition of “I choked”. It is as beautifully powerful a song as I have heard, and encompasses everything The Hotelier offers in one outstanding track. The finale is a more straightforward-style song, but acts as a perfect end to the stories that have been presented before it. It features the widest-ranged vocal performance on the album as they expertly weave in and out of control, until the haunting final lines of “Engraved in the stone/By request and recurse of friends dead/Is ‘Tell me again that it’s all in my head’” put an end to the record in a spectacular manner.
Last year, The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die became the emo darlings and wound up on the radars of people around this music scene and beyond. Well, this is The Hotelier’s year. Home, Like Noplace Is There is an intoxicating album that draws you in with its sheer power, and by the end of the record, within the final, cathartic moments, it engulfs you completely.