Following on from a forgettable (or at least forgotten in the eyes of the public at the time) debut in 2011’s It Never Goes Out; and a phenomenal and ultimately seminal second record in 2014’s Home, Like Noplace Is There, how will The Hotelier fare when it comes to album number three, 2016’s Goodness?
Well let’s start where we shouldn’t, and judge this record by its striking cover: Whilst it may not be the most visually appropriate piece of photography, it certainly isn’t not aesthetically pleasing in its serenity, and any cries of outrage or requests for censorship are surely a step too far. Coupled with the album's teaser trailer, this naked assembly of elderly strangers found through Craigslist appears to embrace happiness in nature and the notion of natural beauty, and hence this image could be taken as an extension of the record's message of “Goodness”.
Moving onto the music, as is the goal here: the spoken word nature of opening track ‘N 43° 59' 38.927" W 71° 23' 45.27''’ and its counterparts are reminiscent of the similar tracks on La Dispute’s Wildlife – and the overall atmosphere of Rooms of the House by the same band – although they possess less ferocity, where La Dispute are a band with whom The Hotelier share a penchant for gripping and emotive musical storytelling more generally. Vocalist and bassist Christian Holden’s opening recital provides a charming introduction to the album and a precursor to the rhythmic ‘Goodness Pt. 2’ (with ‘Goodness Pt. 1’ being featured on the aforementioned album trailer), which wanders to a euphoric musical peak before returning home with a smile.
[Also, if you are interested, the coordinates used for those song titles refer to the following places in order of album appearance: somewhere in a forest in New Hampshire, somewhere near a house (not that one) in a forest in Vermont, and somewhere near a group of lakes in Massachusetts. Whilst the importance of these locations is not immediately apparent, they likely hold some emotional significance to the band, and are all in New England from where the band originates.]
The likes of ‘Piano Player’ and ‘Settle The Scar’ provide the frantic streak of the record, as Holden and co. provide the raw emotion for which they are well known at notable speed, powerful instrumentation and vocal deliveries are certain to form an emotional connection with the listener. By contrast, ‘Opening Mail For My Grandmother’ and ‘Fear Of Good’ are slow and endearing, showcasing a different yet equally emotional side of The Hotelier. ‘Goodness Pt. 2’ and closer ‘End Of Reel’ combine these two approaches in the classic loud-soft dynamic track, which provides both an epic beginning and end to an incredible piece of musical art.
Having firmly planted their flag at the forefront of the emo revival with Home, There Is Noplace Like There, Goodness is confirmation of the band’s musical creativity and command over emotional composition. The trio are undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with as crowds continue to dance, sing and cry in their droves, and the band continue to create such beautiful compositions.