Sometimes, we have to do things that we don’t want to. It’s an inevitable fact, part of the mundane ins and outs of daily living. Right now, I’m waiting for hundreds of gigabytes of data to back up as I prepare to install a new operating system on my computer. Times like these are when I reach for something like “Novels” by The Burning Hotels.
The album provides perfect ambiance for almost any task; driving rhythms and melodies that are equal parts haunting and sunny — bittersweet, almost — are the order of the day here. The post-punk use of simple melody and chord progressions means that you can half-listen while working on other things; but when you do devote your full attention to the music, you start to notice the subtleties of the sound and the thoughtfulness of the lyrics. “Novels” is the sort of album that conjures up memories of summer evenings spent driving too fast and eating ice cream on the beach with your friends — moments ending just when you want them to last forever. There’s a melancholy to it, but a fond nostalgia as well.
Song wise, the album starts strong, setting the pace with “Austin’s Birthday” and not slowing down for the remainder. Songs like “First Love” and “Where’s My Girl” are memorable, catchy and innovative.
In all fairness, I have a weakness for post-punk. I went through a phase where Bloc Party, The Strokes, The Rakes, and Hard-Fi were all staples of my music listening, and I still love that music today. But there’s a purity here that I haven’t heard in ages and that really hammered the point home to me: this novel is a gem. If you hear me humming a tune as I walk down the Quarter Mile in the next week or so, this is probably the album it came from.