Hospitality’s eponymous debut album, short in length but strong in substance, presents listeners with a fun, refreshing and accessible listening experience. Singer Amber Papini and her bandmates have clearly focused on establishing a consistent sound strengthened by meaningful lyrics, creating a pleasant cohesion to Hospitality. The album thereby leaves listeners with a taste of their potential as a new band, while also demonstrating their ability to write and record a quality first full-length release.
Hospitality offers a fresh take on a sound common among indie-pop/rock bands over the past several years. While the album adopts a stripped-back style built around a single vocalist, one guitar and drums, producer Shane Stoneback uses vocal and instrumental fills to polish the album in a way that prevents it from falling into the shadow of similar bands like Vampire Weekend– his biggest success to date. Thus, though the sound of Hospitality’s freshman release lacks some originality, musical embellishments using “period keyboards with horns, synthesizers and treated guitars,” alongside the accent-tinged voice of singer Amber Papini give the album layers and texture that make it appealing to the average listener. Single “Friends of Friends” prevalently features a saxophone riff that adds dynamic to the song, while “Sleepover” is pulled together during the chorus by Papini’s unearthly backup vocals.
Additionally, Hospitality stands as a surprisingly consistent album across its (short) thirty-four minutes, as each of its ten tracks embodies quality song writing. Though the band embraces a single sound throughout their Merge debut, each song possesses its own musical identity and lyrical depth that provides Hospitality with a greater sense of completeness as an album. “Julie,” for example, dramatically differs from up-tempo singles “Friends of Friends” and “Betty Wang,” and is characterized by a slow, steady tempo and gorgeous flowing lines about Papini’s great-grandfather. “Argonauts,” arguably the album’s best song, offers straightforward but thought provoking lyrics like “Lock the key and throw the door away / Something told me I should leave right away,” and a long, compelling string-based instrumental outro. Every song on Hospitality claims individuality while cohering to the band’s defined style and ultimately contributing to a cohesive first effort.
The album’s final track, “All Day Today,” provides listeners with the greatest look into Hospitality’s potential as a band, and essentially sums up the remainder of the group’s first full-length album. Though the song lacks an innovative sound, it showcases a young band with the ability to write fun, accessible and quality music consistent in style and substance. Given time to develop and grow, Hospitality will undoubtedly become a force within the indie-pop/rock realm.