Hotel Books - I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel At Home (Double EP Review)

Hotel Books new double EP I’m Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel At Home is the group’s newest release. I have really been looking forward to this release since I first heard about it. I really like the double EP and combining the I'm Almost Happy Here EP with it. The band comes out pretty tight on the EP. It features probably the best full band feel of any Hotel Books release. This brand of spoken words meets rock music is something I've heard a few times. This release had some lofty expectations to live up to.  

It is extremely hard, in my opinion, to make a really strong spoken word album that doesn't get too bogged down with feeling like a onslaught of too much of the spoken word element. To me you have to have that great balance. I've heard bands like Listener, MeWithoutYou, or La Dispute all be able to accomplish the goal, but finding that perfect balance is key. On this double EP, which honestly plays more like an album, the band finds that stride and it works. I've heard a ton of previously released Hotel Books music and this set of EPs is definitely the best, most accomplished set of songs this band has released. They've really found a nice balance here and went in the exact direction I was hoping for. I had heard the first four tracks because the band had previously released them on bandcamp, but with the flow of the EP they work great at the beginning and kind of ease the listener into the set of songs. I think this is the best release I've heard from this genre since Listener's Wooden Heart. That's some high praise because Wooden Heart is a phenomenal album.

There are quite a few really strong tracks on this release. I really like "Cult Leader". It balances both great lyrical and vocal performance with a really solid musical backdrop. The song has a great intensity and honestly it'd be one of the first songs I'd recommend someone to check out from the band. "America's Next Model" has the same set of strong characteristics. It has really nice guitar work on the song. "Constant Collapse" is a little more somber and really lets the vocals and their intensity push to the forefront. The more mellow music balances out those intense vocals really well.

The artwork for this is pretty interesting. It features a woman standing in front of the mirror with her hands in her hair and her back to the camera. The picture is taken from the opposite side of the room and I found it kind of interesting that the other side of the room is reflected in the mirror. It's a really fitting cover for this release. In a way it compliments the original EP artwork for I'm Almost Happy Here that also featured a woman with her back to the camera.

The only thing I think some people might be a little critical of is that this double EP is eleven songs long and the first three were available to download on bandcamp way back in December of 2013. So if you're like me you've been listening to those songs for months meaning you're getting only 8 tracks that haven't been out for quite a while. That doesn't bother me much because I like the way they flow with the release. This release includes the final two tracks of I'm Almost Happy Here where the December release only had the first three. It's also a plus considering this is being pressed on vinyl so it's nice to have those songs included.

I think if you like bands like Listener, MeWithoutYou, or La Dispute you are really going to enjoy this album. It has a lot of interesting thought provoking lyrics. Yeah, the vocals are heavily spoken word oriented but this has some really great instrumental music to back-up that vocal style. The vocals have such an awesome intensity and I really enjoy them. If you're a Hotel Books fan I think you're going to love this double EP. This is a really cool release. I've been constantly going back to a few tracks and listening to the lyrics or noticing small nuances in the music that make me enjoy the song more.

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