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California’s Hotel Books seem to be heading into a musical roundabout of sorts. The past few releases from the band have been great, shit, they’ve been superb, but they’re starting to hit a rather repetitious sound that could begin to grate harder than the constant lies and bickering of our politicians if they keep it up.
The poetic spoken word and raw, voice-breaking screams are still there, the themes of love loss tied in with religious connotations still prevail, the clean ambient guitar chords rule the day, the emotive, dynamic instrumentation that only ever seems to crescendo or just drop in and out remains, and the diabetic-like heavy breathing of singer Cameron Smith is starting to get a little old (especially on that last one). The key word there is ‘starting’ as it’s all still engaging, beautiful, and passionate music that is real and honest. But if the approach continues this way, the band could easily become their very own cliché. And then what are they? Well, then they’re just motherfucking Metallica, aren’t they?
But, as it stands ‘Run Wild, Young Beauty’ is a great listen, and is very deserving of your time. It all starts off with the title track and fellow single ‘Constant Conclusions’ (a reference to 2014’s ‘Constant Collapse’ maybe?) and it’s everything that you could expect from the band. Vocals that are either spoken or screamed, ambient, clean guitars that love tremolo like a fat kid loves chocolate, dynamic instrumentation, and emotions.
Oh boy, the emotions – there’s a lot to be had here.
While the band used to solely focus on the ideas and musical musings of Smith, who seemingly can’t afford therapy with how much he lays bare on each release, what’s most remarkable here is that the love has been shared around amongst the members this time. As a result, the songs feel like, you know, actual songs now. They have more structure, they are slightly less ambiguous in their nature and delivery, they flow more evenly, and the input of the other members has never been this noticeable. For instance, there’s more drumming on this album than the band have ever had prior. There’s backing vocals that come up on a handful of tracks, and it’s great to see the guitarists back up the emotional outpouring of Smith with some simple vocal harmonies that add real weight to the tracks.
Another big step forward for the band that’s been slowly developing over their discography is the introduction of more melodic hardcore elements in the vein of label mates like Being As An Ocean. This style has been borrowed and woven in to great effect here, as the band groove and rock along like they’ve rarely done before. There are two songs which embody this the most, and the first of which is ‘I Died With You’, a definite stand out, and it builds and flows so perfectly in its final minute that it’s a pretty damn hard song to fault. Then we’ve got the catchy ‘Love Life, Let Go’, which features an appearance from Hawthorne Heights’ JT Woodruff to help create an epic, euphoric chorus that makes it easily the catchiest song the band have ever written.
‘Nothing Was Different’ is a more electronic based, ambient track that harkens back to the band’s very early days. It’s also just as open and confessional as the early material and it’s second-half, ‘Nothing Was The Same‘, follows the same suit. Another old aspect continued on here is ‘Wooden Floorboards’, with it being an oddly macabre song, coupled with haunting piano and guitars that use drawn out notes to create a very chilling sound. This is one part of the band that they may very well repeat well into the future, but it’s probably the one thing that will never get old about Hotel Books – their passion and ear for music that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
Hotel Books make music that is one part Being As An Ocean; one part Salvage My Dream; all feels. It’s haunting, beautiful, atmospheric, and ambient. This album is also far more driving, rhythmic and song-orientated than the band have ever been, and this really helps to fill out their sound. ‘Run Free, Young Beauty’ is a very noticeable growth for the group, and after going through the 12 tracks, it’s clear that they’ve finally come out of that awkward cocoon and are growing into a beautiful moth (butterflies are actually pussies, moths are tougher, bigger, and are definitely where it’s at), that’ll continue on to be something truly special. Well, so long as they keep it fresh and keep bringing in new ideas, and don’t fall into one very big clichéd, repeated sound. Here’s hoping that we didn’t jinx it…
1. Run Wild, Young Beauty
2. Constant Conclusions
3. July (Part One)
4. I Died With You
5. Nothing Was Different
6. Love Life, Let Go (ft. JT Woodruff)
7. 813 Maryland St.
8. Wooden Floorboards
9. Two Steps Back
10. Nothing Was The Same
11. August (Part Two)
12. Ten Steps Forward