Grade: 85% (B)
There's a point during the song "Liberal Arts" from Hospitality's debut album in which Amber Papini sings, "you found your joy on saturdays, friends and fun, fingering your girlfriend." She also repeats twice on the song singing, "you found the lock but not the key that college brings." These two lines compared to each other and played off of each other easily convey the attitude Hospitality shoots through speakers to the listener.
The Brooklyn trio's sound is both adolescent and mature. The lyrics and Papini's voice relay a youthful message while the musical elements of the record are well developed and accentuated. The collaborative efforts on the choruses' vocals compared to the shrewd horns backing them leave the listener wondering what the motif of this band really is. In one part of their mind they see an upstart indie-pop band with high aspirations while in the back of their mind they have a subtle respect for the band's enterprise.
These dueling elements feud each other throughout the ten songs on the LP. Amber sings of love found and lost, friends, and just growing up. The music has no lead instrument as samples allow a variety of tones and guitar work to be used. But don't mistake this group as a bunch of kids messing around with a bunch of instruments. They know their way around their tools and even better, they know how to utilize them in certain situations. On "Friends of Friends," they open only with a bass and lead guitar ushered by drums. The simple nature of the collection leads well into the drifting bridge and eventually into the chorus presided over by the brass section.
These types of arrangements can be found in various formats on Hospitality. While they in themselves could serve well as "elevator music" (really good elevator music), they fit perfectly alongside the innocence and sweet nature of Papini's voice. Her vocal chords are link between the sophisticated instrumentation and naive lyrics. She has a girlish feel in her voice yet there are raspy moments where she shows she can act as a grown and mature woman. Without this, this record would have no real variation from any of the other girl-guy indie-pop groups we have encountered in the past few years.
The album is not cheap, and it doesn't take advantage of the aforementioned indie-pop boom. Instead the trio takes some minor fixtures from the genre and blend it with the influences from their childhood and teenage years. In this way, it is a tween album that can be enjoyed by all, and it that sense, they certainly deserve credit. While a college freshman can appreciate the "joy on saturdays… fingering your girlfriend," a late twenty-thirty something can appreciate, "you found the lock but not the key that college brings." It's the reflections of a teenager from a fully grown and weary perspective mingling with indie-pop sounds. What's not to love?