To begin frankly, it was always unlikely that any song on Goodness was going to evoke a similar response that “Dendron” did on The Hotelier’s previous album, Home, Like Noplace Is There, where emotion bled from the lyrics and internal pain was conveyed through the delivery. However, where Goodness does succeed over it’s predecessor is in its complete package; As an album that doesn’t redefine the emo/pop-punk genre, but does it’s best to add a sense of life to it.
Kicking it off with some spoken word intros (of which I am not a fan), the album really digs into their sound in the second song, “Goodness Pt. 2” and it strikes an immediate tone of just how personal and reflective this album is going to be. Moments of regret and punctuated with lyrics such as “I should have asked if you could stay” on “Settle the Scar”. It’s clear, as it was with the prior album, that every song is playing it close to home.
Despite not sharing experiences with the themes of the album there is so much empathy in the lyrics that you’re made to feel it. It’s pop-punk at it’s finest because it’s exploring different avenues, developing the bands sound without it veering into “different” territory” and it’s emotive in a way that makes the listener feel as if they’re going on a journey with the band.
If there’s a drawback it comes at the interludes which while an interesting addition only proves to drag the album and break up the momentum too often.
Songs such as “You in This Light” and “Piano Player” pick up the pace, both beginning a little quieter or muted in the latter case and building to crescendos by the bridges. In contrast there are songs such as “Fear of Good”, which is melodic and haunting, pretty even for lack of a better word. Beyond the intricate lyricism and some vocals that soar by singer Christian Holden, who has only grown in developing his skill set, there is some really interesting instrumentation happening in the background that separate the album from the bands previous releases. This is a confident album, one that understands what the band does best and how to highlight it.
“Two Deliverances” is an example of this, a song that very easily could be your newest summer anthem with it’s roaring choruses and high energy. “Soft Animal” takes a different approach but still is an example of the band at it’s very best.
“Make me feel I don’t have to die”/ “Make me believe there’s a God sometimes”
Seeking out hope in darker days, “Soft Animal” has the effortless catchy melody the band is so good at employ, the ripped apart vocals and percussion that makes it car ride worthy, windows down, on an ideal summer idea as you shout along to the lyrics.
But nothing on the album touches “End of Reel” which despite first opinions might have become my new “Dendron”, against all odds. It begins poetic, hitting slow beats that ebb and flow, a slowburn build. But then it breaks before an explosive finish, vocals peeling away.
There is such a poignant emotional undercurrent in this album, making a listener feel voyeuristic, as if we’ve taken a peak in a friend’s journal that very clearly said “do not open” across the front. While Home, Like Noplace Is There tackled themes of deep despair and grief and how to deal with a life that has dealt you loss upon loss while Goodness, still tinged with an atmosphere of grief as people try to move forward, has a glimmer of genuine hope as the lyrics suggest a person trying to pick up the pieces of their life and seek out another day, a happier day perhaps, one that will offer music and joy.
Goodness is out now.