The Hotelier move into the upper echelon of the emo genre with stunning second album

By Alexa Hoyle

Courtesy of Chloe Muro/Flickr
Courtesy of Chloe Muro/Flickr

Massachusetts-based band The Hotelier (formerly The Hotel Year) has been releasing music since 2009, but if you have never checked them out before, now is definitely the time. Their first album under their new moniker, “Home, Like Noplace Is There,” released on Feb. 25, is a remarkably honest effort that truly establishes them as a major force in the emo music scene.

The musicianship on the album is full of variation and texture, most notably on its opener, “An Introduction to the Album.” The song plays out mostly in a soft, measured tone until it explodes three-and-a-half minutes in. Singer Christian Holden holds nothing back as he screams his lines with ever-increasing intensity until they culminate into the desperate yells of “I choked, I choked, I choked!” that end the song. The emotion is palpable, raw and affecting.

The album’s second song, “The Scope of All of This Rebuilding,” is a clear standout, and one of the few songs with the ability to put emotional weight behind the words “I don’t know.” Its catchiness makes it easily one of the album’s most accessible songs. But not all of “Home, Like Noplace Is There” is so easy to sing along with. Emphasizing the variety of melodic textures on the album, “Life in Drag” is far more twisty and distorted, with Holden’s vocals shaking with power as he sings about the struggle of gender identity.

One of the strengths of that album is that it is always heartbreakingly self-aware; the honesty behind Christian Holden’s words is undeniable. On the track “Your Deep Rest” Holden sings “I called in sick from your funeral / The sight of your family made me feel responsible / I found the mess you left behind / Little hints and helpless cries / Desperate wishing to be over.” It is a painfully cathartic song that finds its root in an inherent self-interest that does not always have to be denied.

Album closer “Dendron” invokes all of the various elements of ”Home, Like Noplace Is There” and mixes it into one final outburst. Towards the end of the track Holden sings, “Part of your charm was the way you would push me from / all of the traps that I just couldn’t see / Figures the one that was there to have tripped you up / would be the one that was set there by me.” It is blisteringly frank, and closes the album by bringing many difficult emotions to light.

The album as a whole is a study in all of the emotions that people find difficult to think about or process.  The strife of survival, the selfishness of saying goodbye, and the pervasive thought that all of these emotions are not just in your own head. The album’s lyrical content provides a rarity: the ability to feel, not just relate to, the power behind words written entirely from someone else’s perspective. To find the meaning in lyrics despite your own personal detachment from them is the mark of a special kind of songwriting.

“Home, Like Noplace Is There” is not always a happy album. Actually, it rarely is. But it is one of those exceptional records that do not come around often. It is bracingly real, and the reality it portrays is often as painful as Christian Holden makes it sound like. It will never stop being thrilling to hear an album this honest.

Alexa Hoyle can be reached at [email protected]