Review : Hospitality - Hospitality
ContactmusicAs far as band names go, Hospitality is one that resonates with a sense of warmth and welcoming. Their sound too greets you warmly, it is distinctively poppy indie occupied with a summery memento. Hailing from the Mecca of indie groups, the Brooklyn trio's self-titled debut is a vis-.-vis of a twenty something's ennui ridden life. Now approaching her 30s, lead-singer and songwriter Amber Papini writes in hindsight of the 'glory years' with a flippant tone, dismissing past loves (and inevitably losses) and a parsimonious lifestyle.
The subject matter may not be the most upbeat, nonetheless this is a fun album; Papini's vocals are fun to listen to and the band sound as though they genuinely enjoyed themselves during the record. Opener 'Eighth Avenue' kick starts the album in a Camera Obscura-esque, elated ballad style that cannot help but bring a smile to your face. As the song draws to a close the acoustics are dropped as the song is invaded by an onslaught of erratic guitar fuzz, setting up the rest of the album nicely as the next track (and lead single) 'Friends of Friends' is unabashed guitar pop. The retrospective lyrics are rained over by afropop melodies and grooved out drumbeats like a Skittles storm; they are colourful and vibrant, with the album having a brazen holiday feel. Just look at the front cover, it is a throw back to summer holidays with family. Papini's lyrics may be fraught with themes of disappointment yet the musical backdrop juxtaposes this ideally as it transports you to some not-too-distant beach.
Some of tracks are reworks of past tracks, they have been floating around the music scene since 2008, and rather than sound reworked they instead sound like they've been polished with the whole colour spectrum to draw out the warmth of each of the tracks. Initially from their first EP, also titled Hospitality (no marks for originality then) the most apparent improvement is on the track 'Betty Wang,' which compared to the original have been given an all new lease on life. Rather than sounding as though it was recorded in the corner of a garage, it now sounds as pristine as it should do. Some songs do sound better without the coat of gloss, at their most raw and lo-fi, this cannot be said for any of Hospitality's songs as a stripped down approach takes away the sunshine that makes the trio so enjoyable....full text
PitchforkAmber Papini's world is full of doors, locks, and keys. Half the tracks on her band Hospitality's self-titled debut LP make mention of these things, either their presence or, more significantly, their absence. Take "Liberal Arts", an appropriately languid tribute to mapless post-graduate ennui: "So you found the lock/ But not the key that college brings/ And all the trouble of your B.A. in English literature/ Instead of law, or something more practical," Papini wryly surmises over a tamped-down electric riff and shuffly drums, showing her hand as the most promising recent graduate of the Tracyanne Campbell school of cardigan rock. (In non-metaphorical reality, Papini studied at Yale.)
Then there's the dreamy, rootless "Sleepover": "Lock the door, I'll take your coat/ Let's pretend that it's summer," she implores some itinerant lover, though the demand quickly slides into "let's pretend that we're married" and then, after a niggling guitar worms through the backdrop of brushy drums and gauzy harmonies, perhaps unsurprisingly dissolves: "Lock the door before you leave."
This album is about the comings and goings that can consume a certain kind of twentysomething's life, about fuguing and settling and sometimes not being able to tell one from the other. This album is also very fun, perhaps because, as Papini has wandered into her 30s, she seems to have realized that none of that really goes away, it just gets easier, or at least starts to seem bearably silly. In these songs, quietly groovy drumbeats turn fully danceable in the flick of an instant, shimmering Afropoppy guitar rains down like confetti, whole brass sections seem to barge in and sneak away and climb back in through some window....full text
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