Million Rand Hotelby Nathan Zeno / 13.07.2009
There is a certain feeling of nostalgia about The Black Hotels, where it comes from I can’t put my finger on. At Burn this last Saturday watching them for the first time I was surprised by how many of their lyrics I could sing along to. I hadn’t realized how much I have been listening to them this last few months. They exist in a far corner of consciousness. A place somewhere between The Hold Steady and Belle & Sebastian.
Jangly driving cardigan rock infused with harmonies is probably the closest I could come to a description of their sound. But it’s the lack of stance that define The Black Hotels. They seem to just exist in a reflective space, no screaming of slogans or facebook links, no shouting at all. At first I was guilty of thinking that their songs were all too similar, but the beauty of The Black Hotels is that they explore levels within a comfortable space, comfortable as an old jersey, as worn by a contemplative cynic. They have a way of playing and they play with that, each instrument, each voice informing the other, standing back and allowing the whole to exist. It’s because the layers within the songs are revealed slowly, because of the inter-textual behavior of the music, that The Black Hotels are such a good band.
From the driving-in-my-car reflective-ness of Beautiful Mornings to the sing along-bounce-around-on-the-dance-floor of Johnsson Mann, The Black Hotels have carved themselves a little niche out and sit there beautifully, the kind of band that doesn’t shout for attention but really, attention needs to be paid.