Words: Jordan Gorsuch
Leave it to The Hotelier to make a chance-encounter with a fawn in the middle of winter sound like a centuries-in-the-making confrontation.
“Soft Animal” begins in a poetic framing of the narrator and his friend spending a quiet morning in cabin, a pastoral setting rife for mining the subtleties of daily life. Singer/bassist Christian Holden wastes no time getting to the central focus of the emotionally-charged song. The band lend cathartic background vocals as Holden delivers a line that cuts to the bone: “Make me feel alive/ Make me believe that I don’t have to die.”
Finding God in nature is an idea that was popularized by the poet William Wordsworth, it is hard not to feel his spirit within the emotional, thought-provoking lines.. The track suppresses and releases throughout its runtime; guttural basslines and drumming pressure-cook and blow over into blistering walls of sounds as Holden scream-sings along with a rousing choir of voices.
The prevailing stereotype that the Hotelier and bands in their vein only create overwrought, overdramatic, and emotionally manipulative music are missing the point. Their success is not just founded on melodrama. It is their ability to find the drama in seemingly inconsequential situations; they are built around catharsis and all of the feelings that come along with that release. That special ability is why a small, soft creature prompts life’s biggest questions and why a rife-shot across the forest sounds like Shakespearian-drama.