Usually when you check into a new hotel, it has a funny way of changing your outlook and mindset for the days to come. Whether it’s settling down in a hotel for a vacation, work trip, or just a weekend getaway, these places tend to have their own unique personality attached to them. Broadside have this concept well on the top of their mind on their fourth full-length record, called Hotel Bleu. The interesting thing about this album is that it finds Broadside tinkering with their sound and exploring the depths of their songwriting. While their last effort, Into The Raging Sea, took listeners on a journey through the darkest of thoughts, Hotel Bleu may just be the polar opposite. The latest LP by Broadside (Oliver Baxxter [vocals], Domenic Reid [guitar], and Patrick Diaz [bass]) is vibrant, lush, and as colorful as the name implies.
The album starts off with one of the most interesting songs on the record, with the synth-laden “Stranger” that features a frenetic beat and steady riffing from Reid before exploding into an emotive chorus by Baxxter. What Broadside do really well on songs like this is to channel their love for big pop hooks and alternative rock guitar parts into a satisfying blend of styles. “Dazed & Confused” follows the frenetic opener with a mid-tempo blend of acoustic guitar (in the opening refrain) that bleeds away quickly into a stomping, guitar-driven attack that reminded a bit of Set It Off’s Midnight style. The instrumental breakdown in this track features a wailing, keyboard-laced solo to expand upon the creative ideas put forth by the band.
One of my favorites in the front half of Hotel Bleu comes in the form of “Don’t Lose Faith” that rocks like a George Michael pop song on steroids. Baxxter’s vocals are as captivating as they’ve ever been on this heavenly song that hits all the right notes. “Cruel” features a guest spot by Brian Butcher (The Home Team), and starts off with brooding synths in the opening that fade away for a great guitar groove, much like The Maine did so well on their last two albums. “Bang” rocks along with a steady tempo in the verses and features a stellar hook in the chorus of, “Bang, bang, bang the reaper is at my door / And I don’t wanna run anymore.” The atmospheric vibes of “How To Love, How To Lie” is top-notch guitar pop, and features a nice, pulsating bass line from Diaz to keep interest high.
The back half opens with “Lucid,” that features a collaboration with Devin Papadol (Honey Revenge) and continues to explore the magic that happens when Baxxter and his bandmates trust their creative instincts. This dynamic sound on songs like this gets even better as Papadol gets to shine on her own verse in the track, before her and Baxxter harmonize on the chorus. “Feel Love” brings forth the dancehall vibes and rocks like The 1975 paired with the disco dance-pop of Dua Lipa. “One Last Time” was the first song to be released from the set, and it ends up fitting well in the sequencing of the record.
More reflective songs like “What Have I Done?” finds Baxxter reminiscing through his life over heavy synths and pounding drums, before launching into a lush chorus. The tender closer of “Bleu” is a nice way of wrapping up this era of Broadside with further self-reflection from Baxxter while Reid’s acoustic guitar shines over the mix. The dreamy ballad is meant for the lighters (or cell phones) moment at one of Broadside’s concerts that get better with age, much like the band has showed their growth on Hotel Bleu. Checking out of this hotel opens a floodgate of great memories, good vibes, and stellar songwriting.