A horrible hack

Hightide Hotel - By Surprise


Year Released: 2009
Format: CD
Label: Runner Up Records
Reviewed by Andy Malcolm on Nov 10, 2009
First release on vinyl for By Surprise and they continue to impress and improve. The opener here "Invisible Ink" is full of boyish charm and midwestmo bounce, landing it primely in the same territory as bands like Mid Carson July and My Favorite Citizen. After the initial blast of the intro the music rolls gently, with dual vocals getting their yelp on. The production is a little demo-ey, a touch of distortion on everything that perhaps could have been ironed out, but still this is a really nice track that just needed a bit more vocals on to elevate it even higer. "CB Radio" drives on in straight after, sounding a whole lot like Lovesick - particularly in the slightly off-key vocals (maybe not to the same extent, but it's always a winner for me). This is the pick of the two songs, being a bit more fleshed out but still suffering a little under the muffled production.

Hightide Hotel were a new one on me, I think I maybe made half an ear towards their demo earlier this year before I realised just how underwhelmed I was with most of the bands that seemed to be coming out of the scene post the astonishing rise of Algernon Cadwallader. Hightide Hotel are solid enough, playing poppy indie rock that dallies with group vocal choruses, and on "Elemntary Biology" the stereotypical twiddly American Football style moments. It is pleasantly poppy, and has some nice swaying moments. Hightide Hotel spurn excessive mathiness for superior song writing, which is always pleasing, but I am not really appreciating the group vocals. All in all I'd rather listen to Look Mexico or Pennines but this is a solid side of vinyl.

The two bands here compliment each other well, but I am more intrigued by where By Surprise will go next, given that they seem less in step with current trends and more prone to creativity.

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