Words About Music
Hightide Hotel “Naturally”
We’ve said goodbye to a lot of bands this year. Death Grips, The Knife, Guided by Voices, Crystal Castles, and Darkside have all entered some form of breakup or musical hiatus of one form or another. One of the more understated breakups to happen this year comes in a more optimistic form, though, and that is the breakup of Philadelphia punk/emo trio Hightide Hotel. Their 2010 debut album “Nothing Was Missing, Except Me” is one of the more fierce and fun albums to come from the genre, and the band is definitely one of the more accessible emo groups out there. Rather than go one-and-done like so many beloved emo bands have done before, they decided to give it one more go-around before calling it quits. “Naturally” is the result of that final go-around, a triumphant and consistent record that says goodbye in a much more refined manner than the bands I listed before. No tour dates were cancelled, no fans had to be let down by underwhelming efforts; it’s just a fun, straightforward summer-emo-punk record to throw on during road trips to better places.
With that said, “Naturally” is a last hurrah that isn’t all the way distinguishable from the countless loud-emo bands that have graced the scene. Hightide Hotel sounds like a decent mix between the raucous pop-punk of Joyce Manor, the focus on musicianship and delivery seen in Snowing, and the lyrically and musically jubilant nature of Japandroids. What Hightide Hotel does is good, but it’s nothing more creative or ambitious than what better bands have done in better ways. And that’s not to discount this album or this band. Hightide Hotel write awesome songs that all have equal sense of purpose. This is a band that’s breaking up, but not one that sounds out of sync or disharmonious with each other. They’re breaking up, but there’s no malicious intent.
The album’s half hour presents plenty of different tempos and weird movements. Hightide Hotel combine a lot of different sounds really well within to create a wholly cohesive and fleshed-out album. They’re just as great as doing a simple punk jam like “Dandelion” as they are at doing a multi-faceted track like “Vertigo Chamber.” It can be hard to tell Hightide Hotel from your typical pop punk band sometimes, but they at least make attempts to sound different, even on the eve of their end. This does make them quite a bit less memorable, though. What I loved so much about the newest albums from Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor, and The Hotelier was that they all write fiercely memorable and catchy songs. That’s what really separates the adults from the children in my opinion. As great as “Naturally” is to listen to, which it is, the band isn’t quite great at writing super memorable tracks. Overall, what the band does on this album is respectable, fun, and even great. It just doesn’t go the extra mile to be phenomenal. And that’s just fine.
SCORE – 7.4
FAVORITE TRACKS – Hello Cruel World, Basement Warfare, Dandelion, An Absence Felt, Apollo Silent Groove, Naturally, Sigh