A lot of digital ink has been spilled regarding the current wave of semi-credible indie rock bands with obvious emo leanings, leading many to say that we, as a youth culture (ha, a 27-year-old writing about “youth culture”) have a full-blown emo revival on our hands.
My take: people are kind of right. Ernest, swelling, embarrassingly personal bands are certainly in vogue right now (especially in Philadelphia, which is itself having something of a moment on the national punk stage), and while that brand of heart-on-sleeve emotion was relegated to the world of new-folk and folk-revival a few years ago with bands like Frontier Ruckus and (to a lesser extent) Okkervil River, feelings have indeed come home to roost with emo-inspired rock bands.
Still, it’s not a true revival to me, because it only reflects on aspect of emo music. Many of the bands getting blog bylines about emo revival play what I think could charitably be called “midwestern emo” or, more snarkily, “Kinsella-emo.” While I don’t want to take anything away from stalwarts like Into It, Over It or Pentimento, but this new wave of emo music is missing that east coast sound that bands like Saves the Day (yay!) and Taking Back Sunday (…) broadcast to a generation of children going through puberty.
In other words: it’s cool that you can play in an alternate tuning and discovered that one American Football album in college like the rest of us, but have you ever just written a punk song?
Anyway, this is a very long preamble for me to tell you about Hotelier’s new album and, more specifically, the first track off that album.
The band formerly known as The Hotel Year has released it’s first album in three years, Home, Like Noplace There is, and it’s pretty great because it reaches across all of emo[s subgenre’s for it’s sound. The record reminds me of Saves the Day and Taking Back Sunday in spots, but one can also hear fragments of Braid, Motion City Soundtrack, Bright Eyes and Cursive in it’s nine-song nu-emo opus. I recommend it to anyone who has a soft spot for this kind of feelings music.
That said, I recommend the opening track, “An Introduction to the Album,” to anyone and everyone.
Musically, it’s a four-minute long story. When I say that, I’m not talking about the lyrics at all (which are fine, if a little overwrought): I mean that the instruments and how they are played tell a story. It’s almost like a post-rock song that someone threw some lyrics on to. The whole things hangs on a simple-yet-clever guitar progression and subtle developments on the main theme, before exploding, as all punk songs must, into a blaze of drums and group vocals. It’s a pretty great accomplishment in emo-ship, and easily the best rock song I’ve heard this year outside the Lawrence Arms.