Witty, black-humoured, and wistful, Hotel Lux continue with their humorous yet reflective social commentary in debut album Hands Across the Creek. Partly composed throughout lockdown, the album reflects a mix of post-pandemic existentialism and the grapples of establishing oneself in the South London post-punk scene.
Once self-declared as ‘Britain’s most self-conscious band’, Hotel Lux have crafted an album with a newfound confidence. After moving from South London to The Wirral to produce the album with Bill Ryder-Jones, a unanimous inspiration is difficult to pinpoint. Whilst it still relies on the fundamentals of classic South London post-punk, there have evidently been some adaptions.
Photo: Hotel Lux album art- Hands Across the Creek
Morton Betts begins the line-up, setting the scene for a muddle of guitars and post-punk. They’re followed by Manchester locals Soup!, with songs reminiscent of art rock pop from the late 1970s. Then, Hotel Lux hit the stage.
As their track Tabloid Newspaper states, they are indeed all drinking Stella Artois. With cans dotted across the stage, lead vocalist Lewis Duffin takes a swig before beginning their set. In the far-right corner is newest member Dillon Home, who accompanies Hotel Lux’s classic post-punk with the additions of organ and violin.
Opening with Old Timer and Points of View from their new album, Home’s incorporations of percussion and strings is a testament to their evolution as a band. The setlist is the perfect balance of old and new. Whilst Duffin asks “what do the people want” on track Loneliness Of The Stage Performer, Hotel Lux’s cool-headedness is a contradiction to their earlier writings of self-doubt and uncertainty. Home and Max Oliver (their new guitarist as of 2022) seamlessly integrate into older tracks, bridging the current Hotel Lux with the previous.
The spotlight shifts to guitarist and vocalist Sam Coburn who graces us with his vocals on Easy Being Lazy, a melancholic moment of reflection. Coburn also showcases a brief acoustic interval in Mourning After Morning, before returning to Duffin’s classic spoken word. Common Sense and Eastbound and Down encompass modern Britain with a medley of sarcasm and self-reflection, inspired by Mick Lynch, the RMT strikes, and Jeremy Corbyn.
Photo: Hotel Lux live at The Deaf Institute- Molly Dodge-Taylor @ The Mancunion
Ultimately, the subtle reinventions of Hotel Lux in an attempt to distance from the typecasting of post-punk have paid off. Arguably, Hands Across the Creek is more effective live, refreshing the album with a passion more convincing on stage than off. But it is only reasonable to assume they may be fighting off the post-punk pigeonhole for a while.
Hotel Lux’s potential to stand out in the South London scene is more than apparent. Hopefully their next releases will follow suit of Hands Across the Creek, modifying a genre that has since become unvarying and uninspired.
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