Indie rock/emo band The Hotelier are back with Goodness, their 3rd full length album in 5 years. It’s somewhat of a far cry from their usual harsh, urgent version of emo. Gone for the most part are the rough vocals and fast-paced instrumentation found on previous Hotelier albums. Goodness finds the band slowing it down, looking within and coming to terms.
The album starts with the strangely titled “N 43° 59′ 38.927″ W 71° 23′ 45.27,'” which happen to be the coordinates of Sabbaday Falls, where bassist and singer Christian Holden almost drowned as a kid. It’s in spoken word, and has Holden describing himself sitting outside reflecting. “You in this light feels new, woken,” he says. Throughout the album Holden keeps this theme; seeing things in a new light.
The next track, “Goodness Pt. 2,” is the most catchy on the record. With booming percussion, spattered guitar, and a pop punk-ish solo, it’s about as danceable a track as you’ll find from the band. While there are some more catchy songs on the records (Two Deliverances, Piano Player), the album is mostly somber-ish sounding tracks. “N 43° 59′ 38.927” W 71° 23′ 45.27,'”another latitude/longitude-titled track, is a hauntingly beautiful acoustic guitar track, featuring a lullaby a camper taught Holden when he volunteered as a counselor (the coordinates of the track are the coordinates to this camp). “Opening Mail for My Grandmother” is the most graceful, lovely song on the album. Filled wih delicate instrumentals, the song deals with the narrator’s grandmother as she withers away, waiting for her inevitable death.”They’re keeping your space there they’re dying for you/We’ll sing your good graces when they come for you/But until that day’s here I’m coming for you,” Holden sings softly.
The album is like one big nature walk, with Holden and co. finding peace in the great outdoors. On “Sun,” Holden describes a day outside with his significant other. “Will you lay with me where the sun hits right?/When the tired days can’t remember,” he asks over quiet guitar riffs. “How a blurring haze came across your eyes/Will you lay with me forever?” He continues this theme, although slightly differently, on “Soft Animal.” On this track, Holden spots a baby deer outside his window and finds peace whilst gazing at the creature. “Fawn doe, light snow/Make me feel alive…Make me believe that it is alright.” This all ties into the theme of findng reconciliation in light/nature that encompasses this album.
Like pretty much all albums with emo tendencies, this album requires a bit of patience and a few listens for it to hit home. However, when it finally does, Goodness offers a very rewarding listening experience. The band’s last release, 2014’s “Home, Like NoPlace is There,” focused on emotional turmoil and grief. This record concentrates on things that can help relieve that, which makes it the perfect follow-up. Goodness will no doubt be at the forefront of all indie releases come year’s end. So get your walking shoes, grab your headphones and embrace the light.