Label: Hassle Records
Released: 9th February 2018
Hotel Books’ return finds Cam Smith as lost as ever while the band around him find themselves musically.
What could often be described as a “creative project” centred around spoken word poetry, ‘Equivalency’ arrives focused more on the bands sound to balance against the heart-wrenching lyricism of the singer.
The pinnacle of this progression comes with the out ‘n’ out pop-punk joyride of lead single ‘Celebration’ which breaks the fourth wall; deconstructing the songwriting process along to the hook of “I hope you’re happy Mom, I wrote a happy song”.
It’s a fresh approach to the project, and it echoes throughout ‘Equivalency’ with firmer structures and patterns throughout the tracks; creating more “songs” like ‘Van Nuys’ and ‘Violent Smile’ rather than the raw winding narratives like the emotional ‘Where I Am’.
Lyrically, Cam faces the same battles of dealing with love, whether that’s in his religion or his romantic life, and at times it’s uncomfortable to hear those emotions so exposed but, somehow, he continues to find the most beautiful way to describe despair.
In that honesty, those very acute references and specific heartbreaks, there are the same flaws Hotel Books have always had, and we’ve learned to accept. To contrast that, album closer ‘With Love’ removes that personality as it tells the story of 2 former lovers in different aisles of a supermarket to create a more palatable tale of loss.
If you add in the guest vocals from Chase Huglin and Chris Bernstorf and the band’s presence in this album, it feels like Hotel Books are trying to grow. It’s still not perfect, but it goes some way to add colour to the bleak pictures which Cam paints. Alex Bradley