Hearing Aide: Hospitality’s “Trouble”

As music evolves and today’s artists adapt to an unlimited reserve of influence, the lines of traditional genre labeling become increasingly blurred. Hospitality’s sophomore album, Trouble, demonstrates this marriage of distinct sounds as well as any contemporary indie release in the past year.

The Brooklyn-based trio dropped their first album in 2012, displaying a style of educated twee pop. Frontwoman Amber Papini’s experience as a student at Yale contributes to the band’s quirky multi-genre sound; her sharp lyricism in the recently released, Trouble, full of imagery and scenic narratives, is a progression from the witty writing inherent in Hospitality’s self-titled debut.

Trouble’s preeminent feature, however, is the diversity found throughout its ten tracks. In the opening “Nightingale” alone, Papini and company transition from a Black Keys Thickfreakness-era guitar section to an ethereally reverbed-out interlude featuring a harp/bass combination before concluding with a massive synth-driven jam.

The album spans a variety of musical stylings, and in the process it covers a range of time periods. Trouble’s first single, “I Miss Your Bones” exemplifies the simplicity of early indie rock’s guitar/bass/drum lineup. The track is as bare as the bones that Papini’s character can’t wait to see again, yet its repeated tempo changes and its spirited instrumentation create a collective sound as full as “Nightingale”’s epic outro.

“Inauguration” follows “I Miss Your Bones,” jumping ahead a few decades to present day’s synth-focused rock music. Papini offers phrases that are interrupted by pulsing, dissonant keys. Although the range in her vocals remain essentially the same throughout the entirety of the album, the band makes up for it with their consistently diverse arrangements.

Amongst all of the varying musical complexities of the album, piano appearances remain one of Trouble’s most prevalent consistencies. The piano’s incorporation seems most obvious in the track “Sullivan,” a slow moving ballad where distant keystrokes accompany a set of spread out guitar chords. The most unpredictable piano part comes in the album’s eighth track, “Last Words.” A wavering synth line, reminiscent of a fundamentally toned-down dubstep phrase opens the track. It’s met with a piano progression and an angelic backing vocal to create a beautifully anthemic song.

The album closes with what feels like the only musical space it hasn’t already covered. An acoustic cut exhibiting the candor of Papini and her guitar concludes thirty-six minutes of collected influences.

Trouble is the work of experience and understanding; it’s the product of Hospitality’s two-year evolution since their debut.

Key Tracks: I Miss Your Bones, Inauguration, Last Words