Pop Addict: Hospitality’s Hospitality

Every other Thursday, Pop Addict presents infectious tunes from contemporary musicians across indie rock, pop, folk, electronica, and more.

Hospitality: HospitalityHospitality: Hospitality (Merge, 1/31/12)

Hospitality: “Friends of Friends”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Hospitality-Friends-Of-Friends.mp3|titles=Hospitality: “Friends Of Friends”]

When Brooklyn’s Hospitality surfaced in 2008 with a six-song EP produced by Karl Blau, there was, naturally, immediate blogosphere buzz surrounding the band. Its poppy, minimalist sensibility catered to the indie-pop avenues it was exploring. The songs were spirited, displaying immense capability and promise. With that potential and talent came a signing to Merge Records and the band’s proper debut LP (produced by Shane Stoneback), which revives several songs from the EP while adding a few more, just for good measure.

From the moment that the album starts, there is something very warm and welcoming about the arrangement and composition. Album opener “Eighth Avenue” starts with acoustic strumming and persistent, steady drumming, immediately calling to mind early Belle and Sebastian work. The song builds gradually, integrating keyboards, harmonies, feedback, and percussive ornamentation, but it never strays far from its sunny-day feel. It is a laid-back indie-pop treasure that is sure to give first-time listeners a reason to give the rest of the album a chance. And once that happens, you’re roped in for the duration of the record.

The inviting track sets the tone for the rest of the album, giving way to the horn-happy “Friends of Friends” and dream-pop gem “Betty Wang” — two of the album’s strongest songs. Throughout the rest of the album, the Belle and Sebastian comparison rings true, as singer Amber Papini offers imaginative lyrics with a tinge of both loneliness and happiness, always presented with ample hooks. Whether it’s the peppy, poppy “The Right Profession” or the pared-down “Sleepover,” Hospitality’s debut offers a light, breezy listen that evokes indie-pop contemporaries like Allo Darlin’ or Tennis, making the band the next in line to carry the torch of summer-sweet sing-alongs and carefree jams.

Moreover, the hooks here never feel worn or routine — they feel new, undiscovered. With many of the songs oscillating between up-tempo head bobbing and sparse breakdowns, Hospitality has crafted a record that doesn’t try to do too much or too little. It is a debut that shows incredible potential, as the band is completely in charge of its own sound. Where the folks of Hospitality take it from here is up to them, but one thing’s for sure: they’re onto something.

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