Brooklyn indie pop band Hospitality are to release their second album entitled Trouble, out on Merge Records at the end of this month. Formed in 2007 and consisting of Amber Papini on vocals and guitar, Brian Betancourt on bass and Nathan Michel on percussion, the band took their time to work on this record, focusing on other projects since the last release too. Using the time to reflect on their making process, sophomore album Trouble sees an acceptance of the use of silence and explores what that can do to evoke emotions.
In the studio, the chief arranger was Nathan Michel whilst engineer Matt Boynton acted as his co-producer. Nathan describes the process; “We really wanted to avoid the ornamental, but I always like to add more sounds. Matt was helpful in keeping the arrangements as simple and direct as possible. We all wanted the record to have a warm and open sound.” Emotions wise, Papini explains, “Most of the songs are about everyday environments that arouse anxiety or unease.” She elaborates on the reference to the ocean “[it] isn’t meant for people; we aren’t supposed to be there, and some of the animals that live there are much bigger and faster than we are in the water. I think a lot of the songs deal with this ‘out of place’ kind of theme, feelings of unease and the questions of what is under you or what surrounds you.”
“Nightingale” opens the LP with a sweet, poppy number before “Going Out” showcases their new more stripped back sound. In “I Miss Your Bones” Papini sings “And all the stars will twinkle in the midst of a sea, of black and lonely, an everlasting loss lack abyss” reflecting on the loneliness nature can emulate. The song itself is a driving rhythmic piece. With a similar set of thoughts, following track “Inauguration” sees the lyrics: “And if I’m lost and low, and need you, I’ll disconnect the line” – the dark synth noises match the mood.
“Sullivan” sees the most indulgent use of silence; long pauses separate the lyrics and the soft drumbeats. “It’s Not Serious” is more similar to the twee sounds from Hospitality’s self-titled first release – soft melodies and lyrical content. By contrast, “Last Words” picks up the synth levels and infectious beat – the introduction is captivating before Papini’s voice comes in, strong as it gets.
To finish, “Call Me After” is the most folk influenced tune in which sweet, soft vocals come over acoustic guitar, Papini hums part of the melody to close the track and the album. In its array of songs, Trouble covers the universal themes of loss, love, and loneliness with Papini’s trademark wit. Whilst the tone is generally darker overall, it is obvious trio Hospitality aren’t shaking that twee-pop vibe anytime soon.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.