“Make me feel alive

Make me believe that I don’t have to die
Fawn, doe, light snow
Spots on brown of white
make me believe that there’s a God sometimes.”
~Soft Animal
The Hotelier, Goodness

The Hotelier’s “Home, Like No Place There Is” was one of 2014’s biggest rock masterpieces, rocketing a relatively unknown band from Massachusetts into a scene-specific spotlight and elevating the bar for what little-bands-that-could can do. To me, it was one of the most original, emotional albums I’d heard in what felt like ages, something that ripped open my chest and found the most secret thoughts to expose in all their pathos on a stage. I can’t think about my first spring and summer in Pittsburgh without thinking about the mournful chorale of “An Introduction to the Album,” or the agonizing shame of “Your Deep Rest.”

This year we get a new Hotelier LP. The songs released so far are nothing short of epic promises, hinting at an album that’s slightly more optimistic but nonetheless emotionally motivated, full and relevant. “Goodness” is going to be good. Great, even. But until that arrives and I get the chance to memorize another 13 tracks of riveting self-reflection at the hands of Christian Holden, there’s these two great singles to chew on (AND this fantastic cover of The Cure’s “Doing the Unstuck”).

It’s hard for me to pin down just what it is that makes this band so good – is it the lyrics themselves, these strong metaphors and perfectly metered phrases sung in a soulful, stretching baritone? Is it the guitars, with distortion aplenty and moody, melodic chords? Maybe it’s just talent. I can’t say just what it is, but it’s woven into “Piano Player” and its crashing, thrashing, peripatetic motion, and in “Soft Animal” yearning, pleading hooks. I’m so sold on this band, and I’m confident they won’t fall into that same familiar pattern of a band who broke through and broke down. Songs this deep and rich will always find an audience. Songs this exploratory, this well-versed and composed, will always need to be written so they can be heard.