Review Summary: "Some of the most immediately lovable, twinkly emo you're likely to hear in a long time."
~Sputnik user, SeaAnemome
Do you remember the last time that you listened to a record and really sympathized with every word and emotion moaned out by the lead singer? For me, it was most likely Hospice, in which Peter Silberman served as misdirected tour guide on a heart-wrenching lyrical journey, an ill-fated relationship that rendered listeners feeling just as pitiful and dejected as the grimly-situated frontman. Such an effect is indubitably the mark of a great album. A lead singer's ability to keep his audience grasped on until the final track's conclusion is something to be envied and sought after. Really though, I'm preaching to the choir here.
When you first press play on Nothing Was Missing, Except Me, perhaps you'll feel some eerie connection with the singer's story. Perhaps, like me, you'll immediately be drawn into his narrative of self-deprecatory pursuits of pretty Spanish girls, accompanied pleasantly by the rather frequent writing-off of the whole damn wide world.
One of the first things about Hightide Hotel that jumps out is the way in which the frantically sputtered vocals seem to pair so nicely with the frenzied vigor of the drums. It was no surprise to find out that Benjamin Schmidt, frontman of the group, stammers out his simply-articulated sentences while whirring away on his elementary drum set. These core aspects are backed in an ever-so delicate yet impertinent way by the incessanct twangs and jingle-jangles of lightly-distorted guitar, bells, keyboards, and whatever else the Philadelphia trio decide to throw into the mix. The effect, as articulated by a fellow Sputnik-er, is truly "twinkling". Honestly, it's borderline fantastic.
Lyrically, the record is a disaster…a tumbling, snow-balling, uncoordinated and worn out disaster, but in the best possible way. Benjamin Schmidt isn't too happy with person he's been or the one that he's become; he makes this clear to the audience in the album's first sentence. Schmidt immediately reveals such facets of self-doubt and concedes the fact that he's not any more concerned about it than you are…and he's completely alright with that. This discordant apathy litters Nothing Was Missing, Except Me from start to finish in a way that leaves the listener unable to decide between feeling annoyed or sympathetic. The result becomes trite at times, but generally maintains its flickering charm.
"Some people make an art of watching life pass by. Not me, I watch the watchers, I'm that far behind." Schmidt whines, moans, and pleads for 35 minutes, a perfect demonstration of the "emo" genre, but seems to do it better than many of his predecessors. His depracating outlook is complemented nicely by occasional shreds of hope in new romances or rejuvenated feelings, but concludes almost exactly as it began. "And I can imagine an ocean of water for miles hanging above my head." If you don't think you can handle a young man bellyaching for an entire record and not getting anywhere in the end, I suggest maybe just ignoring this. Go listen to Jimmy Buffet or Schwayze or something instead. However, if hearing about wanting to pull your hair out for half and hour doesn't make you want to yank out your own locks, give Hightide Hotel a listen. It's certainly not on the same hauntingly beautiful level as a record like Hospice, but I don't think you'll be too disappointed.