Hightide Hotel – Nothing Was Missing Except Me

Hightide Hotel coverJust last weekend I published a review of Snowing’s I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted and much of what I said about that record could be broadly applied to Hightide Hotel’s Nothing Was Missing Except Me. Both bands, in fact, hail from LeHigh Valley Philadelphia, and odds are good that they’ve shared more than a few stages in their time.

I’ll approach this review a little differently to how I normally might, as I’m actually writing this mere minutes after typing up my thoughts on the Snowing record, and I’m hesitant to repeat myself. If you’ve randomly browsed by, I suggest clicking here to read last weekend’s review. If you’ve already read it and are wavering on whether or not to keep reading this, then I’ll save you some trouble either way: if you dig Snowing, you will probably dig Hightide Hotel as well. Ditto if you like Grown Ups or Castevet or Meet Me In St. Louis, and so on. We cool?

So to start things off, it’s worth noting that Hightide Hotel have a playful and almost ambivalent attitude as their hometown friends: that much is obvious from the title of the first song, ‘I’m Just Sippin’ On Monster, Thinkin’ About Life’. Srs themes makin’ for srs business! The song’s a pacy number, too, although it eschews variety in favour of repeating and looping its licks and riffs at speed, with the rhythm section laying down a fast tempo with lead guitar noodling about over the top of it.

That’s instructive, as it’s worth noting that Hightide Hotel are, for the most part, rather more traditional than Snowing. (If anyone from Hightide Hotel is reading this, I’m sorry if it seems unfair that I am so focused upon comparisons. They’re foremost in my mind right now and I can’t help but articulate them.) The structure of their songs is less experimental and, whilst it’s plenty playful, there are less forays into off-piste territory. Whilst that is no bad thing – with their warm-sounding guitar and bass tone the overall effect is one that recalls the clean and cosy friendliness of Growns Ups more than the mildly abrasive camaraderie of Snowing or Castevet – it’s pretty much a given that when you’ve got two similar bands, the more interesting of the two is usually the one which does the less expected things.

Still, that’s not to be harsh on Hightide Hotel. They’ve written an admirably consistent record that’s full of great melodies and riffs, features a few memorable lines like  “I was searching your bedroom for any signs of life”, and constitutes a collection of songs that sound a lot bigger and more intricate than anything played by a three-piece has any right to feel. That this is their first full-length is genuinely surprising. There is good reason to believe that the band will go on to do greater and grander things. In the meantime, Nothing Was Missing Except Me is a lot of fun.

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