Album Review: Hotels - Where Hearts Go Broke

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review by Philip LaRose

I first heard Seattle quartet Hotels when I happened to see them playing a show last August. I immediately fell in love with their music, clearly inspired by some of the great bands of the New Wave and post-punk genres but sounding as fresh and exciting as the pioneers they emulated. I went home with a copy of their first album Thank You For Choosing... and their music playing in my head. It wasn’t until the next show that I realized some of the songs I recognized as familiar favorites weren’t even on that first album; I was hearing them for only the second time ever, and yet they’d been in my head for weeks. That’s the kind of band Hotels is, and that’s what’s on their second album Where Hearts Go Broke, released as a digital download on Valentine’s Day, February 14, and available at Sonic Boom and Easy Street record stores in the Seattle area in the following week.

Hotels have a slogan of sorts, “Travel. Romance. Solitude. Rest...”, which aptly represents the various elements of their style, at times dreamy and distant, at times visceral and vital. Take the opening track and lead single, “Hydra”, with its ringing guitar line playing tag with the keyboard and bass, inviting you to get up and dance. This upbeat track is immediately followed by “Near The Desert, Near The City”, a slower wistful affair evoking distant landscapes and loneliness. Often the same song is both moody and body-moving: “Port Of Saints” speaks of feigned indifference to a lost relationship, but the driving beat reveals the drama the lyrics pretend to hide.

Throughout the album, the combination of beautiful guitar and keyboard melodies, complex bass lines, and solid drumming create a very rich, full sound. Lead singer Blake Madden’s dry, deadpan delivery is perfectly suited to the music, conveying either passion or dispassion in equal measure as appropriate. “Cafe Martinique” is a great example of how all the parts build up to a gorgeous whole. Where Hearts Go Broke is an excellent album from a rising band, and I expect to see Hotels get a lot of attention this year.

Hotels will be playing their CD release show at the Sunset Tavern on Friday February 20th, along with Point Juncture WA (who will also be celebrating their CD release) and The Animals At Night.

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