Album review: "Hospitality"
By - Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, Apr. 13, 2012
Hospitality's self-titled debut combines simple pop rhythms and melodies reminiscent of 1960s American sunshine pop with the heavy soundscape and thick production tactics indicative of indie bands today. And the indie pop band does it well. But what really sets Hospitality apart are Amber Papini's easy and speechlike vocals that recall Nancy Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn and give the album a nostalgic feel.
Songs such as "Eighth Avenue" and "Friends of Friends" start with simple bass, guitar and drum, then evolve into a playground of sounds before returning to the melody. "Liberal Arts" is grounded by a simple melodic idea but with added sounds and textures that become ethereal and undefined, ending unresolved. The band is well-versed in the right amount of push and pull between music's past and future.
Papini's lyrics add another layer of depth, and while her light vocals are at times drowned out, the snippets a listener does catch are enough to conjure a New York feeling or story. On such rousing songs as "The Right Profession" and "All Day Today," Papini writes from the viewpoint of a smart, at times snarky, single 20-something living in New York. It is self-aware and authentic poetry.
For a debut album, the Brooklyn-based band that came together in 2007 has a lot to live up to. Anchored by Papini's vocals, the band's sound is unique and smart, yet also highly accessible.