Is it too late for the Burning Hotels to retitle their debut album?
Not because Novels is a horrible choice, but there are far more accurate and -- most importantly -- vivid nouns that would convey the kinetic energy contained within these 11 tracks.
The Hotels are one of Fort Worth's sharpest acts, on record or in concert. The full-length Novels follows 2008's Eighty Five Mirrors EP, as well as an appearance in last year's feature film Bandslam (which cherry-picked the Hotels' Stuck in the Middle for its soundtrack). The punk-tinged precision of their earlier work is only reinforced by Novels' blistering pace; instant favorites like To Whom It May Concern, Austin's Birthday or Time virtually reach out of the speakers and take hold.
Co-vocalists Chance Morgan and Matt Mooty, both anguished and given to infectious yelps of feeling, trade off throughout the disc. Wyatt Adams anchors everything with his locked-in, bone-crushing skills behind the kit; Marley Whistler threads his bass lines in between spiky dollops of guitar.
The songs, which have many bloggers comparing them to the Killers, dwell mostly upon love yearned for and lost. It's a startlingly romantic record once the gleaming guitars and trip-hammer percussion are stripped away.
Yet for as long as it has taken the band to release Novels (it arrives in stores Tuesday as an independent release, after the band shopped it to various labels for much of last year), it doesn't feel the least bit stale.
If anything, Novels is the first chapter in what will hopefully be a long, fruitful career. The band will play a CD-release show at the Moon on April 30.