52 Albums: Week 3
The self-titled debut album by Brooklyn-based indie-pop group Hospitality is almost but, not quite, worthy of the considerable buzz it is generating.
I started writing a very different review in my head halfway through the opening track, “Eight Avenue.” That review started, “Amber Papini is going to make this easy — You will know whether the debut album from Hospitality is for you within 30 seconds.” And this is true to a degree. Papini’s somewhat affected vocals are clear and ethereal, providing a gorgeous compliment to the catchy, upbeat melodies and clean guitar work.
If twee is not your thing, you may have an immediate negative reaction to Hospitality. Personally, I was immediately won over by this song and was prepared to love the rest of the album. The songs that follow, however, only occasionally match the promise of that opening track.
Which is not to say that this is a bad album. Far from it. There is not a bad track on Hospitality but, at the same time, it’s not a particularly remarkable album either. There is an air of familiarity about these songs and, while in some cases that can suggest a band has tapped into something essential, in these case it feels more like Hospitality is re-treading ground that has been well covered by other bands. Some of these songs could have appeared on a Vampire Weekend album (and, indeed, the album is co-produced by Shane Stoneback who has worked with Vampire Weekend), while others recall Camera Obscura.
This is a classic example of an album that I may need to revisit at a later date. My issue with Hospitality may have more to do with expectations than with the reality of the album. When one encounters such a revelatory opening track on an album that has come highly recommended, it’s hard not to be disappointed when the rest of the album turns out to be nothing groundbreaking.
I’m giving the album three and a half stars for now but I’ll come back to this one in a future post and would not be surprised if the album rises in my esteem over time.