There’s a lot to be said for just how rare it is that a band truly nails the spoken word sound. The balance between music and poetry is much more difficult than it might seem to pull off, and seeing bands falter in their attempts at it is unfortunately common when you consider just how good it sounds when done right. Recently the likes of La Dispute and NowHere have done fantastic jobs within the genre, but it’s California-based Hotel Books who have taken the spotlight once again.
Having been building a reputation however for delivering a very strong offering on previous album ‘Everything We Could Have Done Differently’, followed up with ‘Run Wild, Young Beauty’ not long after. ‘Run Wild, Stay Alive’ is the latest release, and while previous efforts have seen mixed success in Hotel Books’ attempts at finding the balance between Cam Smith’s spoken word and his instrumental backing, this month’s LP may be their finest work yet.
From the opening lines of ‘Every Day, The Same’, you can tell that the record is starting on a strong note, and when Smith really lets loose it makes for a really engrossing introductory track. For any who join Hotel Books for the first time on ‘Run Wild, Stay Alive’ it’s certainly the right foot to get off on. Smith’s vocals mesh with his backing better at some times than others, and arguably his delivery on ‘I Think You See Where This Is Headed’ isn’t quite as powerful as the lyrics themselves. The album’s momentum is immediately recovered however with the impressive ‘Where We Sleep Is Where We Dream’, an almost unexpectedly anthemic effort for a largely spoken word record.
It’s difficult to keep opinions concise as the album goes on because there really is so much to say about every track, but from ‘Constant Conflicts’ through to ‘Friendly Crossfire’ Hotel Books really are firing on all cylinders. It’s so well paced and each crescendo is paced perfectly to ensure the words and themes are met precisely by the atmosphere of each track.
’Alcoholocaust’ and ‘Broke Love’ make for quite the indomitable one-two to send out Hotel Books’ fourth full-length record to date. So far, there’s been two records this year that have enjoyed near constant attention from me since their release. First is Dream Theater’s hyper-ambitious epic of ‘The Astonishing’, recently joined by Letlive’s masterpiece ‘If I’m The Devil’. With this, Hotel Books may have turned that pairing into a trifecta of outstanding 2016 releases. With half of the year left to go, There could well be more to come, but right now there are few names matching what Hotel Books have pulled off here.
’Run Wild, Stay Alive’ by Hotel Books is out now on InVogue Records.
Words by Antony Lusmore (@ VilinskiKonjic )