There’s common story that begins with a nerdy pop trio from Brooklyn tempting the scene with a new flavor of music and ends with dissapointment and a melange of same-same song. Hospitality, led by Amber Papini, manages to break that pattern with their self-titled debut album. The trio has bottled quirky effervesence and lets it trickle into the listener’s ears.
Hospitality arrived in 2009 when they released an EP tempting at their sound to come. Now it’s 2012 and we have a Merge Records full album outfitted with twisted chord pattern, dissonance collapsing into harmony, twee anathem, lo-fi jazz spectacular, explosive solos, and rocking ragtag percussion. Papini’s voice orients each song with infectious inflexion that varies from rapid-fire marcato syncopation in “The Birthday” to extended whisper highs and poignant lows in “Liberal Arts.”
Band members Brian Betancourt and Nathan Michel fill in the space around Papini’s voice, guitar, and piano, with sworls of emotive texture in songs like Julie and Argonauts. All the while, Papini’s lyrics keep the listener’s feet on the ground and head in the clouds. The esoteric chord progressions provide momentum for each tune, utilizing inherent sonic conflict-resolution schemes. I imagine Hospitality asking where each song could go, not where it should go when constructing the pieces.
Songs like “Eighth Avenue,” “Friends of Friends,” and “Betty Wang” are pedestrian in the greatest and most endearing way. The subject of each song sits in a lacunary cradle of meloncholy, nostalgia, and hope. Unfortunately nearly every story tends to its own and keeps to a pop formula of 3 minutes. This isn’t to say the short time each track plays for isn’t filled with rich material, but rather there is a hesitation to expand upon or explore the extra-cellular space that coincides with each track.
Hospitality is full of surprises that unpackage after subsequent listens. Falling short of 33 minutes, you will find yourself listening to the crushing whimsy of the album multiple times. Each song portrays a vignette of human life suspended in a modern and confusing state with just enough twee to keep your head bobbing throughout.