Hotel Lux is not your ordinary band, from the spoken-word lyrics to the wry and often deconstructive humor, there’s something quite refreshing and charming about this Portsmouth post-punk group.
First off, they’re not interested in embellishing or sugar-coating their ideas. Everything is straight to the point and delivered to you straight to the point. Listening to Barstool Preaching feels like being in an actual British pub where you’re hanging out with your mates and having fun. Their sound is not the sort of post-punk that’s grim or dystopian, instead it’s bright and jangly with melancholic overtones. It takes cues surf-rock and pop-rock with shades of 60’s rock and roll, round that out with wistful jangle and you’ve got something that’s perfect for the London weather.
Opener “Tabloid Newspaper” sets the tone right out of the gates. It sees the band admitting to sensationalizing their own songs in order to get the attention of the masses: “I love the idea of bending a tale just to make it a better one / Who do you think I am, do you think I’m an honest man?”. See past the veneer and frontman Isaac Woods’ tone and perhaps you can see a veil of irony and cheekiness. One that shares a commentary on the media’s click-bait tendencies everywhere we go. In these times it’s hard to tell what’s genuine or not. Perhaps each and every one of us are tabloid writers after all.
“Eddie’s Gaff” follows with languid energy, a slow and lazy groove which captures the feeling of not wanting to get out of bed. The hook “But it’s just another day / We’re throwing our lives away” feels more real with every repeat, a way of confronting feelings of apathy while moving your own feet. “Loneliness Of the Stage Performer” follows with similar themes, wherein Woods contemplates the anxieties of playing their music to an audience. At the same time, it has perhaps the most poignant reflection of our reality in a social media landscape, where we all put up a show to get everyone’s attention. With lyrics like : “I once contemplated suicide / Just to see the reaction on my Facebook feed” and “I’m a poser / I’m a fake / I’m a want-to-be”, the band projects their own feelings while presenting a mirror for the listener to look at themselves.
These subjects might be gloomy when put into words, but the band’s superb instrumentation has the bounciness and jangle of fun indie rock that balances the whole thing. “Ballad Of You & I” ends the EP glorious horns and pleasant harmonies, proving that Hotel Lux are masters of happy-sad rock.