Review: Hotels – On The Casino Floor

In an interview with yours truly for [sic] Magazine, Hotels’ frontman Blake Madden revealed the band’s next project would be a “a spy epic set in a casino in outer space”. Given that the band’s previous albums have grown from manic guitar interplay (2006’s ‘Thank You For Choosing’…) to romantic, cinematic material (2008’s ‘Where Hearts Go Broke’), Hotels are clearly not a band to stick to rigid formulas, even though that would be perfectly acceptable. ‘On The Casino Floor’ is a sprawling and enigmatic work of art.

No doubt about it, Hotels have come a long way since their brilliant but rather naive debut. Madden sounds jaded as soon as he opens his mouth for ‘From The West’ whilst  ‘Lonely Islands’ is almost overcome with despair but its epic arrangement is rather beautiful. Unsurprisingly, the title track is similarly troubled by misery; evoking both spaghetti westerns and arty synth pop.

The surprises arrive at the end of the record. Plenty of acts have referenced New Order in the past but for Hotels to try it is unexpected. Nevertheless, ‘Trouble At The Consulate’ features doomy bass and primtive electronica and to finish this rather odd record, Madden performs a gothic crooner routine for ‘Sleep In Fame’.

‘On The Casino Floor’ makes one genuinely feel that you’ve experienced the rollercoaster of emotions from a gambling environment; where the line between success and failure is wafer thin and usually results in the latter. Yet at least the excitement, romance and style is there in abundance to make it all worthwhile. Overall, it’s a brave record and one which ultimately works as a concept and as a fine album.

Web Sites:
Hotels Official Site
Hidden Shoal Recordings Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Rich Bennett, Interpol

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