While researching for this column over the past few months, I have spent much of my time trying to branch away from covering punk rock. At times, I’ve succeeded but mostly I have succumbed to the fact that it’s simply the genre that I come across the most with underappreciated albums. As this is my final column for PearShaped, I want to talk about an album which I have wanted to cover since I started Rediscovered in January. If there is one band which I feel deserves gallons more fans, it is The Hotelier. Their album, Home, Like Noplace Is There, was my favourite of last year – surpassing great records from Flying Lotus, Run The Jewels and The War On Drugs to earn that esteemed accolade.
Previously named The Hotel Year, the band released their debut album It Never Goes Out under that moniker in 2011. However, the band was reborn in 2014 as they changed their name just in time for the release of their monumental second album.
Opener An Introduction To The Album stands as one of the most understated titles in music. It begin with a direct order: “Open the curtains!” bellows frontman Christian Holden at the top of his voice, without any accompaniment. Over the next few minutes, the instrumental grows behind Holden so slowly that you barely register it until there is an “oh-oh” harmony that feels grand rather than cheesy. It’s not until three quarters of the way through the track that drums come in and the instrumental comes alive in a cathartic explosion. It’s a move which lays the foundation for the entire album’s ethos of toying with a soft/loud dynamic. I could spend this entire piece gushing about this song, but suffice it to say that was my favourite track of last year by a hefty margin.
The first four songs on the album segue into each other so smoothly that each one builds off the energy of the previous tracks. Of course, these individual tracks have climaxes and lulls: The Scope Of All This Rebuilding features a huge chorus with layer upon layer of vocals while In Framing culminates in Holden repeating “You felt alone” as the instrumental ascends. But none of these standalone great moments diminishes the underlying verve which drives the album forward.
This first act of the record culminates in Your Deep Rest, a track so indebted to early 2000s alt rock that it is reminiscent of flicking through music channels after school to search for my favourite songs. What sets the track apart from its influences is its dynamic composition, but the dark lyrics are what ensures it would never truly crack the mainstream. It discusses the death of a close friend as Holden confides “I called in sick to your funeral / The sight of your family made me feel responsible.” Lyrically, this momentous chorus provides the cathartic culmination of the first four tracks.
The record only really loses its way with Life In Drag, a weak link in an otherwise staggering record. Whereas screamed vocals are interspersed with singing throughout much of the album to great effect, Life In Drag’s screams come across as rudderless noise. It is, however, a mercifully brief track that almost acts as an interlude before the back half of the record. Of the three tracks that follow, Housebroken is the highlight. In a slow tempo, Holden uses the relationship between a dog and his owner as a metaphor for domestic abuse. It is a defiant and inspiring track that moves away the band from personal tales to more wide-reaching issues.
I’m never really trying to be objective in this column because I’m always talking about albums with which I have a long relationship, but I’m even less impartial with this record. Home, Like Noplace Is There is the most recent album I’ve discussed here, but it’s also probably the one I feel strongest about. The Hotelier build energy into cathartic explosions so well that it would be evocative even without the defiant and open lyrics.