Hospitality | Hospitality

Merge (2012)
By RYAN REED  |  January 24, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars


Stop me if you've heard this one before: a Brooklyn indie-pop trio who write songs about Brooklyn, sung by a front-girl with a mousey voice, punched up with artsy arrangements and dreamy texture. On their homonymous debut, Hospitality sound like 800 different trendy bands at once (from Twin Sister to Tennis to TV on the Radio), so if it's pure originality you're after, you've come to the wrong department. But regardless of their ability to stand out in a crowd, they write tunes sharper than a thumbtack, with words that ramble around in fascinating stream-of-consciousness webs. On bouncy lead single "Friends of Friends," a lonely, disassociated Amber Papini wanders (with "a cheap dress on and a wrinkled sleeve") through the cold, uninviting streets of New York City. But the track itself buzzes with joy — Brian Betancourt's buoyant bass, the spot-on thump-swing of Nathan Michel's drum kit, synths fluttering through the stereo spectrum, bold brass chiming in on the chorus. That contrast defines this tuneful pop vacation: even when Papini feels distraught over not choosing "The Right Profession," she expresses her frustration through an endless maze of gooey melody, her band offering consolation through a sugar-rush stomp and frizzed-out guitar solo.
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