Album review The Motel LifeThose Bruises
It has been quiet some time since RulDope has brought forth an album review. With the transitions we have been making, we haven’t done much publication about music. There is that album or group that comes around once in awhile however that bring us all out of the dark and reminds us why we do the things we do to begin with.
Just when I thought that The Motel Life could not blow me away anymore, the group exceeded all of my expectations with their first release in two years, Those Bruises. I have been a fan of this group since I found them randomly on Purevolume in 2008. Their first EP We All Left Something Behind was a gritty, pop punk masterpiece. The follow up and debut full length, Retreat, was nothing less than perfect. That being said, you can only imagine my anticipation for new music from the California natives.
Those Bruises opens up with the hallowing track “House.” “House” is a very similar opener to “Wooden Hands” from the Retreat album. A dark track that eventually builds up into something explosive, setting the stage for what is to come.
The lead single from the album is “Doctor’s Note,” a song that until the release, I had only heard live versions of. Hard hitting drums and dancing bass lines over the soothing sounds of Michael Escanuelas instantly makes this a catchy track. Gang vocals shouting lyrics like “I never know what to say when they ask me what are you dying for,” display the lyrical depth that fans of The Motel Life have learned to expect and love from the group. The EP continues with “Bruises,” a softer track that seems to be about personal struggle. While the verses slow down over electric plucking and strumming, the build up to the chorus makes for an overall great listen.
One of my favorite songs on the album quickly becomes “Lying About My Age.” A melodic indie rock anthem, the musicianship within the band shines through bright with this track. My favorite set of lyrics are in this song and I think Escanuelas’ literature background give The Motel Life a stronger sense of substance in a scene that lacks much at all. “Crack your bones to break the ice. You never get this feeling twice. You can’t believe the wrong in me is what you like and all you see. That’s how you handle a memory,” he sings out over riffs. The song begins to break down and Escanuelas goes into a familiar period of screams and wails. The vocals throughoutThose Bruises are so raw and full of emotion that it is impossible not to relate and feel something with every track. Following is “Just Leave,” a song that starts out with a funk feel that quickly goes into heavier guitar work. Lyrically and the overall feel of this track might remind fans of earlier work, songs like “Presale.” The Motel Life uses word play well and never shies away from blunt feelings or statements.Those Bruisescloses with the ballad “Cold Hands.” Vocally, Escanuelas doesn’t get any better or more attractive than this. He is simply at his best and full of emotion. “Show me the care that made you never want to love again. Show me the pain that made you want to die alone. Show me what heals up those wounds that open nightly. Show me when your fear began,” he cries out. Female vocals come in, joining Escanuelas in moments of pure musical bliss as the two chant out “We will be consumed.” The vibe is similar to “I’ll Find Myself Another State” on the debut EP or the beautiful gang chants as “Retreat” closes and you find yourself singing out ”We are so far gone, we can’t stop dreaming.” Overall, “Cold Hands” wraps the EP up in a great way while leaving off right where the band began.
There aren’t very many albums or groups that have the type of affect on me that The Motel Life does. For being a smaller, unsigned group with little coverage, I have been in awe of their musicianship and overall production for the past 5 years.Those Bruisesis a transition for the group but nothing short of once again, flawless. When I introduce The Motel Life to people I describe the same feelings I feel when I first heard a fast paced, raw, album from a band called Brand New, Your Favorite Weapon.From there, the group created something that I don’t think a lot of people were ready for because Brand New was so musically ahead of everyone else and their time. They created haunting, moving tracks. Tracks from The Motel Life’sWe All Left Something Behind,the debut album Retreat, and nowThose Bruiseshave brought the same feelings. Those Bruisesis a step forward, a step showing this group has the capability to be something extremely special while still holding onto the sound and style that made them worth listening to in the first place. While many may think my Brand New comparison is far fetched, I believe that it will take some people time to completely grasp and understand the uniqueness and overall captivation that is The Motel Life.
Visit www.themotellife.com for shows and news.
You can pick up Those Bruises and The Motel Life’s other albums at http://themotellife.bandcamp.com/album/those-bruises-2