Review Summary: Overly emotional poetry rock with a copycat singer -- but it's not awful!
At its core, Hotel Books’ latest outing of “poetry music” tries to be raw. The sound of Hotel Books certainly something that has been done before – vocalist Cam Smith rolls out words with some sort of sappy emotional cloak while drums and light guitars attempt to provide an outer ambience, climbing with intensity in accordance to whatever the hell Cam Smith is trying to do. There are a few attempts on this album, however, to allow the instruments to do some talking and let Cam Smith shut up for a moments, and it provides at least a fairly enjoyable experience assuming you’re a fan of American Football. Unfortunately, when Cam Smith slides in with weirdly placed screams Hotel Books becomes almost identical to a Bring Me The Horizon cover band – and that isn’t a good thing.
The general formula these songs follow varies slightly from song to song, certainly a positive aspect, and the formula usually allows Cam Smith to start slowly and build and build, instruments following his cue, until the songs near the three-and-a-half minute mark. At that point the songs usually end abruptly, keeping most of the material constricted. The simplicity of the album makes it very digestible, and the intense moments are occasionally successful at making the listener’s emotions climb. The instruments are almost complete rip-offs of many emo bands of days past, but they definitely manage to provide a pretty good boost to Cam Smith’s cringe-worthy poetry.
One of the most off-putting elements of the album concerns the band’s influences. While it’s great they choose to wear their influences on their sleeve, the band takes it to an extreme and end up sounding like a combination of, again, Bring Me The Horizon and past emo bands. The only significant originality here is Cam Smith’s poetic vocal delivery – he delivers the lyrics as if he’s at open-mic night. This certainly isn’t the worst thing around, and regardless of whatever Hotel Books is trying to do here, you can find similar (and better!) sounds from our friends The Hotelier and American Football. Let’s leave out the stupid lyrics and Oli Sykes-esque vocals, okay?