The last time a record from The Hotelier arrived in my inbox in 2014, ‘Home, Like Noplace Is There’ passed me by with little to no reaction. By the end of the year, it sat firmly on top of my record of the year list (and this site’s own list too).
Now two years later its follow-up has arrived, and with it ‘Goodness’ brings a weight of expectation, not for the band, but for the listener. With its predecessor producing exceptional results, I had high expectations going into ‘Goodness’. And, from the off, it’s clear The Hotelier have evolved in an exciting yet oddly natural manner.
While ‘Home…’ poising itself with urgency, ‘Goodness’ insists on your patience, carrying itself with grace throughout. Its presentation sees a band at home among a set of melancholy songs; ‘Opening Mail For My Grandmother’ and ‘Sun’. Lead-off single ‘Piano Player’ equally highlights The Hotelier’s musical and lyrical exploration.
Throughout their minimalist approach is delivered organically, although it initially might seem testing. The sequence of ‘Goodness Pt 2’, ‘Piano Player’ and ‘Two Deliverances’ is jarring, yet on repeated listens feels natural.
Although their musicianship has grown to be radiant and layered, Christian Holden’s lyrics are left for interpretation, yet still serve as an emotional release. His ongoing lyrical self-exploration is delivered in a rich and forthright manner, adding to the earthly tone of the album. ‘Soft Animal’ highlights Holden’s settled nature as he bellows, “Makes me believe there’s a God sometimes”.
That said, ‘Goodness’ remains a challenging record which, given time, rewards you for your patience. It’s not obtuse – it’ll gently lead you down a path of jangly twists and bittersweet turns, but it remains a more confident, expressive album than ‘Home…’. As for The Hotelier’s evolution, ‘Goodness’ serves as a satisfying step forward and one that only reinforces their burgeoning status.
‘Goodness by The Hotelier is released on 27th May on Tiny Engines.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)