Album, Afantastic This Is
I’ll start this review off with a little parable: whenever someone decides to have a go at playing Sonic the Hedgehog, the first thing they do hold down and press ‘B’ in order to have him spin. That move wasn’t introduced until Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Have a think about the message in that parable before we go on
Culturally, you should never go back. There’s no buts here. Apart from that giant butt yo mamma got. Zing.
Firstly, if you truly believe any cultural artefact or movement from the past is more worthwhile or significant than anything contemporary available, you are one of two horrendous things:
Either you are an aged old fool who refuses to associate with anything new because it only reminds you of the incessant fragility of life when you consider how much further away from death all the other fans are that you’re sharing a concert hall with. You just want music that reminds you when you were young and moderately attractive. Fair fucks to yer, you’re old (yer old yer old yer old yer old) and I think we as a society have decided to let old people do whatever the fuck they want, especially because they’re the only ones who are lame enough to actually vote. I think this is because, deep down, we all know that life is a an absolute piece of shit, and if you’ve managed to make it past a certain age without giving up then you’re due a modicum of respect.
Or maybe you’re the worst kind of person: the person who most highly rates culture that was dead and gone before even their Dad gave up and stopped wasting money on condoms. If your favourite record/movie/drug/masturbation technique/TV show was released before you painfully kicked out of your Mum’s vagina, then fine, but you are not truly a fan of culture because you actively refuse to engage with it. You don’t have any desire to find out what your wider generation is all about, and very possibly have deepset childhood issues that I don’t have time to go into here.
I know people. People younger than me. Who are into The fucking Smiths. Listen, I appreciate The Smiths, I respect their influence and importance, but I have actually paid a smidgen of attention to music over the pat 30 years and know how their sound has been rendered obsolete and dated by the groups they influenced. That’s how evolution works. Listen, I got a lora lora respect for apes, but you put an ape against me in a series of chess matches I guarantee I’ll win almost two thirds of the time.
And anyway: Morrissey, anyone? Isn’t being into The Smiths in (kayfabe) 2017 only slightly more forgivable than being into The Glitter Band?
The Smiths don’t have one album anyway near as good as ‘Home, Like Noplace There is’. And this isn’t Hotelier’s best album
Another ill advised rearward action (get your head out of the fucking gutter! You are disgusting!) is to go backward through an artist’s chronology. If you fall in love with one piece of an artist’s work, and decide your obsession merits further investigation into their back catalogue, you will almost always be disappointed.
Those things you loved about that recent work? Yeah, turns out the artist hadn’t quite worked those bits out. Also, there are loads of bits that they decided to do away with by the time they reached the work that you loved, and you can really appreciate their thinking. The piece of art you loved, the artist had to learn how to make, and more than likely they hadn’t yet learned in the past.
If you fall in love with ‘Goodfellas’, then you’ll always be slightly disappointed by Scorcese’s early masterpieces like Raging Bull, because the stylish flourishes and ingenious musical accompaniments that you loved in his 1990 film aren’t really there yet. If you fell in love with Goodfellas Pizza, then… jeez… I dunno, I’m guessing everything’s a bit of a disappointment because you’re a bit of a weirdo.
Imagine if you fell in love with ‘Lemonade‘, because you have two ears and a fucking heart*, and then decided to investigate her previous album ‘Beyoncé’. Now, ‘Beyoncé’ is a record that I freaking loved when I first heard it (and still consider it a mini masterpiece), but revisiting the visual album when writing up my review of The Greatest Album of the 21st Century it sounded so immature to me, so inattentive, so unartistic. And this is coming from someone who lived through it, I can’t imagine someone visiting the album blind.
Fuck me though, XO, aye? That’s what a spectacular orgasm sounds like.
Imagine you like a movie that’s based on a book, but then you go and see a movie that was actually based on an earlier book. Let’s say you went to see ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’, based on a book written in 2001, and then went to see ‘Sense and Sensibility’, from a book released in 1811: how shit is ‘Sense and Sensibility’?! Nothing like ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’!
If you lived through the earlier works, you will always have a context in which to put them, and would be far more likely to judge them on their surrounding culture. You might even prefer ‘Sense and Sensibility’ to ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’: you remember the book coming out when you were a precocious young adult in 1811 and waiting avidly for the film adaption to come out (because you don’t read, you’re not a nerd). Living through the 1971 BBC TV adaptation, the 1981 seven part TV mini-series, and finally the 1995 Ang Lee film, perhaps you could appreciate the 2005 ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’ in its full historical context, and how it actually improves on ‘Sense and Sensibility’ on almost every artistic level, but still prefer the Emma Thompson talkie.
What I’m saying is: ‘Home, Like Noplace There Is’ was actually released in 2014, but I fell so comprehensively for the followup ‘Goodness’ that I decided Hotelier were my new favourite band and wanted to see the roots of their genius.
It’s not as good as ‘Goodness’. Few things are as good as ‘Goodness’, but still. It highlights just quite how much of the magic of that album was down to producer Seth Manchester, a contribution I hope the band recognise and continue working with him in the future. Every artist should be produced by Seth Manchester. He’s the greatest producer in the world. And not just because of his name.
Without Manchester’s sheathing there’s no getting away from it: this is definitely an emo album. My favourite band at the moment are an emo band. I would bully the shit out of myself at school. There are the odd sonic flourishes, like on Amongst the Wildflowers, but this is all essentially pretty straightforward (if utterly amazing) emo rock. Looking backwards, I can be thankful that they’d realised how ill-suited they were to gall-bladders-to-the-wall rockers (screamo?? What have I become…?) like Life in Drag by the time they made ‘Goodness’. It’s also horribly paced, so much so that a 36 minute album really seems to drag by the end.
But the feels. How mother of God, the feels.
Hotelier have a remarkable ability to inject songs right into that tiny crack in your heart that’s dangerously sensitive to intrusion. Christian Holden’s voice, the intensity, the sincerity: whenever I listen to ‘Home…’ I’m given frequent reminders that this is a band that actually made me cry when watching them live. Their a band that have alyly worked out where my emotional buttons are** and cruelly insist on pushing them
If I’m being honest, I always tried my best to build an emotional wall between myself and this album: I would never let it be better than Goodness! Never! But sometimes cracks appear, sometimes the foundations shake, sometimes that tiny crack in my heart shivers uncontrollably and I want to cry.
The most dangerous track is An Introduction to the Album (fuck me, is that an appropriately named track?! And not just because it’s the first song +50), about the singer trying and failing to convince a friend not to commit suicide. Is it a true story? Almost: because if I’m not careful I realise what it’s really about. It’s about the two sides of my personality weighing up the benefits of suicide. It’s about how ‘It didn’t heal/It just got harder every day’. Then I remember when I saw them live, and the crowd of maybe 30 fellow disciples took it upon themselves to sing the ‘Whoah-uh-woah’ refrain after the ‘Take a deep breath and jump’ line, and how it felt so… so…
Sorry, I have to stop here…
I’m going to do more of this in the future, by the way: I’m not restricting my albums of the year to just albums released that year. Everyone’s invited, it’s my fucking list, ahdowhaddawan’!! Next year I’m going to start a project that I might well die before finishing.
But hopefully not. I don’t want to die.
Age of singer Christian Holden: 26 (+0)
Fuck! That’s so young! It’s weird to have you affect me so much!!
Album Number: 2 (+12)
Album Length: 36 minutes (+20)
Very Good Songs: 1 (+4)
Brilliant Songs: 7 (+70)
AMAZING Songs: 1 (+20)
% of Album Worthwhile: 100
Yeah, fine, go for it…
Previous Entries: 2016 No.4
Grossly underrated, probably second only to ‘Lemonade’, I’m chucking it +100 for how much I love that album
Meta Critic: 91
Yeah, they liked this one they did
*Every now and then… quite often actually… I imagine asking all my closest friends if they’ve seen and heard ‘Lemonade’. If they haven’t, I’d give them a week. If they still haven’t after that week, I’d never talk to them again. I honestly think not inviting that work of art into your life after 2016 is like managing to make it to 1972 without ever realising that we went to the moon
**Up my bum!