There’s something to be said about female vocalists and indie pop, a match so perfect and compatible, that it can usually intrigue the ear no matter how respectable the music really is. Luckily in the case of Amber Papini, lead vocalist of Hospitality, her stylings are both intriguing and respectable.
On their sophomore album, Troubles, Papini and her crew explore emotional complexities and haunting landscapes while moving through decades of pop influence. This time, Hospitality opts for complexity and seriousness when compared with their self-titled debut, which was lauded for its catchy toe-tapping indie-pop sunshine. Haunting yet catchy riffs weave effortlessly through the tracks, naturally complimenting Papini’s prowess.
Troubles is a wistful amalgam of varied inspirations. “It’s Not Serious” adopts a Norah Jones-esque jazz-pop feel, while syncopated pop gem “I Miss Your Bones” reminisces the early workings of Canadian indie heroes Tegan & Sara. The song absorbs—maybe even too wholeheartedly—’80s new wave pop. Riding a buzzing synth, Papini’s airy vocals, and the chorus signifying claps, “Last Words” evokes a desire to star in a hilariously dream filtered ’80s music video featuring Morrisey’s hair. The track may as well be a cut from The Cure or Joy Division. Oddly following this ’80s-style tune is the mystical storytelling ballad “Sunships,” where Amber Papini croons over a crescendo of acoustic guitar and softly spoken trumpet. Lastly, with album highlight “Sullivan,” Hospitality unites with this codeine-drenched loose jazz jam that encapsulates both pop elements as well as technical musicianship.
Although it lacks cohesiveness, Troubles offers an interesting flashback into pop history and never fails to surprise the ear. The album is a definite worthwhile listen and has established Hospitality’s ability to write both young ephemeral pop hits as well as meaningful technical pieces.