Review: Hightide Hotel, ‘Naturally’

Posted 3 years ago by Joel Funk

When Hightide Hotel first announced that they were going to be releasing their final album this year, I was intrigued. I had heard the name, but I had never before listened to the music. Since then, I’ve listened to their debut release once. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love with it. Because of this, I was nervous for what was to come. A month came and went before the first single was released, and when I finally heard “Hello Cruel World,” all doubts were shoved to the side. Something clicked, and I was floored immediately. The stars had aligned, and I was anxiously awaiting the chance to hear the record in full.

After countless listens, I can promise you one thing: the deeper you delve into ’Naturally’, the more you’re going to mourn the loss of Hightide Hotel. There is something about this album that makes it feel like a victory march. These guys knew that the end was upon them, and they made sure to leave a long lasting impression on us. If nothing else, this record has proven that Hightide Hotel is the landmine of the emo revival; you may not have seen them coming, but you’ll certainly be caught up in the explosion.

The album opens up with what is arguably the quintessential Hightide Hotel song. “Hello Cruel World” is the track that really made me realize just how special this band honestly is. The opening riff is a force to be reckoned with, eventually throwing the listener into vocals that are vaguely reminiscent of Into It Over It’s Evan Weiss. This song is so much bigger than anything else released by Hightide Hotel, and it sets the perfect tone for the rest of this record. The impactful energy of this track carries through to “Basement Warfare,” in that actually hearing the song may be more pleasurable than listening to it. The chorus is great, but I have a hard time getting beyond the title and the opening “Everyone I’ve met and known from different backgrounds, different homes…” just because of how cliche it feels.

Another must hear track is “Vertigo Chamber.” The vocals sound better here than they do at any other point on the record. The perfect amount of grit carried throughout the verses and shaky delivery in the chorus is just so cool to hear. For these reasons, it becomes perfectly obvious why this song was released as a single. The track is interesting overall and people are bound to eat it up. Whether you’re a new fan or a seasoned Hightide Hotel veteran, “Vertigo Chamber” is sure to please. Once you reach this track, the rest of the album just flows so…naturally [pun intended].

One of the highlights of the second half of the record is the beautiful “An Absence Felt.” Starting out with the combination of acoustic guitar, violin, and the subdued crooning of “Ash & Dust…,” this track had me sold in the first 30 seconds. Things pick up around the 1:40 mark, and even then manages to remain stunning. This is undoubtedly the song that is going to leave the biggest impression on listeners. In fact, it sounds so big and is done so beautifully, I almost wish it closed the album. This one song alone proves that ’Naturally is, hands down, the best work from Hightide Hotel.

In the end, this album felt like it needed to be heard. There is a sense of urgency that shines through on all of the tracks, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so special. It’s heartbreaking to know that this is Hightide Hotel’s final record because they show so much passion and possess so much talent, that I would love to hear more from them. Be sure to show your support for these guys in any way possible. Pick up a copy of this fantastic record here, and be sure to catch them on their farewell tour in support of this record. 4.5/5