Massachusetts natives The Hotelier are just a little bit lighter on their latest release. The underground emo revival champions’ third record, Goodness, was prefaced with a statement from lead singer-bassist Christian Holden. In it, he indicated a subtle shift from deep introspection to contemplation of outwardly relations, with people and the world. While the album may not be as dark as its predecessor, it is still thematically heavy and packs an emotional punch.
Goodness starts out with just Holden softly delivering a spoken-word poem. From there, thunderous drums and heavy guitars take over. He varies his vocal tone throughout, from barely audible quietness to over the top yelling. It is a pure rock record, but with well-varied dynamics that give it its kick to the gut. There are moments where the music builds to a chaotic crescendo, only to be suddenly stripped away to nothingness. It perfectly mirrors and accompanies the emotions dealt with through his lyrics.
While much of the record is focused on love, it isn’t in the light that you would expect. On “Opening Mail For My Grandmother,” Holden somberly details the final moments of a loved one’s life. “Piano Player” focuses on a woman reflecting on the many pieces of her life, looking back with affection. Following the spoken-word opening track, “Goodness, Pt. 2” hits extra hard, both lyrically and musically. The record ends with single snare drum hits, slowly repeated several times like a drawn out heartbeat.
The Hotelier are decidedly attempting to grow up. They have redirected their attention, focusing more on the world around them, and present these themes in an exhilarating, raw and honest fashion. Overall, Goodness is an epic record, and among the finest of this year’s indie-rock.