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Artist: Hospitality

Album: Hospitality

Label: Merge

Review date: Feb. 29, 2012


Hospitality - "Betty Wang" (Hospitality)


Beneath the summery wallpaper-pop layer of Hospitality is the dutiful eccentricity layer – the sour guitar jangle, the crammed-in extra syllable or patently unmusical phrase like “career advice” – beneath which is, somewhat surprisingly, nothing much. These songs are smart and ingratiating, and slightly squeamish about the world of privileged, post-collegiate ennui they inhabit (“Video games / Books on the bed / Cards I never sent / It’s not like a dream / I thought it should be”), and… that’s what they are. Most of them sound like Missed Connections set to music; all of them involve complex second-person characters. To push it a little far, you could call it an album whose deeper meaning is a search for deeper meaning.

Hospitality takes a lot of cues from labelmate Dan Bejar, who, to be fair, has probably cornered the market on the pontificating yowl that telegraphs deeper meaning. Amber Papini’s voice is more of a dreamy, kittenish lilt, and her lyrics are altogether more task-oriented, but the bluster carries itself in a similar way, strutting and fretting and pacing about some urbane fever dream.

Why that bluster is dressed up so politely, in exactly the cleverly eclectic overtones you should expect by now from a band named Hospitality, will feel either nonexistent or self-evident, likely depending on whether or not you also live in the quarter-life crisis generation and/or Brooklyn. Worst case scenario, the deeper meaning here may never give itself up, even after more listens than you expected to have time for. There are worse things.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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