Released: May 27, 2016
Label: Tiny Engines
The opening monologue on Goodness paints exceedingly clear the building blocks of a sequel if there ever was one. Question is, can the follow up to 2014’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There invoke similar feelings with The Hotelier’s audience? Funny enough, the subject matter isn’t quite as strikingly heavy as the last release in the slightest, but still tugs heart strings in ever-emotional fashion. No, they don’t need to rehash old quirks. Rather, the easy drum pattern opening in “Goodness Pt.2” acts as the comedown from a terrible dream. I picture the scene two years later, much like the real time gap that exists between Goodness and The Hotelier’s last release, Home, Like NoPlace Is There. Instead of the harrowing sorrow and powerful screams dictating an apparent suicide of a close friend, we are instead greeted by a much calmer demeanor in Christian Holden’s words. Goodness at its core is the essence of repair; Holden has lived through the pain and insecurity that life has thrown his way, and as qualms of uneasiness peak their head on the surface (“I don’t know if I know love no more”), the overarching brokenness in people’s faults also reveals a deeper beauty in life.
Goodness revolves around a new revelation, like a milder, more apathetic play on words of Jimmy Eat World’s “Sweetness”, quite self-aware of the reality of evil powers at work, or the inevitable grief that strikes at its least expected moment. Like most tragedies, the essence of brave souls are celebrated in the most optimistic way there could be. On here, Christian Holden’s lyricism blooms amidst this steady drumming of “Goodness, Pt. 2”, like a Lord of the Rings ultimatum that there is some good in this world that’s worth fighting for. This song like many carries a weight of hurt and destruction, now fully forming into the beauty that life brings, a chrysalis made and soon birthed as guitar and bass join Holden’s scarred voice, ready for life’s next challenge. It’s hard to picture tracks like “Two Deliverances” or “Opening Mail For My Grandmother” existing just a few years ago. Yes, there is much to say about Holden utilizing a falsetto voice, or Sam Frederick taking it to a new level on the drums, but the nature of these compositions is unequivocally content.
Home, Like NoPlace Is There was one of those timeline records that maxed out the entirety of emo-revival’s occupancy, though a media narrative in hindsight was to seemingly jump-start a bigger movement. Sure there have been staples, repeats, and reformed ideas splattering against a collective mural one after another, but the champion has already been crowned, and The Hotelier certainly relish the champion’s belt. Goodness in thematic innocence is a marking of a band that has changed, enduring the wave of personal trauma and glory that arose from the aftermath of Home. Each interlude marks a continuing passage into picking up the pieces, The Hotelier’s “spider” trilogy of sorts, with yellow, orange, and brown entries. These inclusions are soft, picking acoustic guitar numbers, followed by the heavy emotions that make up each additional mark on Goodness, down to the last beating drum on “End of Reel”. At this point, they are continuing to ride the wave. When you fall down, you get back up, no matter what. Even Eeyore picks up the sticks and builds his house again, and even emo-revival bands find their place in the bigger indie rock timeline.