The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There | Album Review | By Volume

Got our poster on her wall so every boy that she brings back will see my best side. Johnny Foreigner - Stop Talking About Ghosts
home like noplace is there

The Hotelier

Home, Like Noplace Is There

Tell me again that it’s all in my head.

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Author: on March 6, 2014
9.6
Tiny Engines

There are moments in which I think none of this music writing matters. They’re some of the best moments I know. What’s actually the point? Why do we stumble avidly through descriptors of the cause of a feeling, as though to map our chemical reactions and lay them out in an encyclopaedia of triggers and alarms? Obviously, we know the answers to these questions, as writers and as readers and as music lovers. We know what it means to excavate a performance only to find ourselves describing the beautiful whole as a series of molecular structures. And yet the tipping line – “Held my breath in the ER, I swayed as I stood” – defies this scientific gravity. For a moment, it feels not like the most important thing, but like the only important thing.

The end of The Hotelier’s “In Framing” reduces music to this. Amid the compression of desperate emotion in the track’s final line, I somehow find myself grinning. This is not a happy or joyous few seconds – in fact, it’s a deeply upsetting close to a raw story about a troubling subject – but the fundamental power it generates from its sincerity, its heart and its volume makes me clench my fists and smile. All I’m left with to explain what the last stanza of “In Framing” means is a description of physical consequences and some fragile estimation of the thoughts that accompanied them. The song shadows Ghost Mice’s immensely personal All We Got Is Each Other in message, albeit from a more artistic posture than that record’s involved narrative. But what makes the track so indelible is the impossibility of separating its components – not just guitars from vocals, but structure from texture and theme from musicianship. To dissect a track that closes this way feels like cheating it of something.

Is this to say that all music requires in order to have a profound impact is honesty and spirit? Well, partly. It’s what I argue in a roundabout way every time I try to espouse my love of certain moments of pop-punk. Not to denigrate the efforts of more sophisticated artists, but Home, Like Noplace Is There hits every single button on the emotional joystick without threatening the borders of creativity. But what is clear is that The Hotelier have a phenomenal, instinctive understanding of rock music that can only come from in turn being enormous fans of heart-on-sleeve bands that came before them. Opener “An Introduction To The Album” twists a doubtful cyclic melody atop a simple guitar motif with touches of organ and piano to push the song’s psychological travails along. It’s quiet but dramatic and engrossing, adorned by the least obnoxious gang vocals in history. It’s apparent from this get-go that The Hotelier are artisans of this sonically simple aesthetic (the twists and turns are nothing of the sort). This band play with explosion and collapse, and they seem entirely at home in their heavy moments and their soft forays.

This is allowed to happen because of the record’s focal point, Christian Holden’s blazing vocal performance, and the band’s joining together behind the tempo and tone of each cut. “Life In Drag” explores gender issues in a melodic hardcore mould, and splits the album down the centre with a blast of aggression; the superb “Housebroken” is a more mid-paced, ebbing affair with its own sharp edges, though lyrically just as potent. “The superb” is a stupid prefix for me to have used in this review; there are nine tracks on Home, Like Noplace Is There, and every one has a discernible and engrossing identity, from the near-a-cappella of the opener to the pop-rock of “Your Deep Rest”. “Discomfort Revisited”‘s quiet-loud spikes drop out for a mellow bridge; it’s easy to lose yourself inside the structures of these songs because there’s nowhere for your mind to wander except the next hook, the next heart-rending line.

With a nod to the opening paragraph of this review, I don’t feel I’ve done Home, Like Noplace Is There justice. The stories played out in its runtime are genuinely meaningful, often upsetting parables with just enough distance to contextualize the scene and just enough blood and sweat to make holding that camera angle a practical impossibility. “Part of your charm was the way you would push me from / all of the traps that I just couldn’t see,” closer “Dendron” flexes. But for all its astonishing moments, the special thing about The Hotelier’s new record is that it’s not afraid to do the most obvious thing when it’s necessary. That final song feels to be winding down, until it catapults itself into the night with a final, heavy statement. Engraved in the stone, by request, and recurse of friends dead is “Tell me again that it’s all in my head.” How can I hope to explain this record better than that?

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