Mere weeks after Moby surprisingly decided to reissue the companion album to 2005’s Hotel, the tenth anniversary of the original album crops up, giving us an opportunity to listen to it again.
In the fifteen years or so since Play originally came out, it’s certainly fair to say that Moby‘s mainstream popularity has declined, although his fanbase seems as strong as ever. Hotel, and the Very Best Of compilation which followed, definitely mark the end of a particular era
The album opens with Hotel Intro, one of those nice little ambient pieces that Moby seems to churn out in his sleep, before throwing us straight into the livelier sound of Raining Again. In 2005 this seemed another great song from the man who brought us all those movie and commercial soundtracks, but ten years on it seems to have lost its impact a little.
Beautiful is better, with a great catchy chorus, although there isn’t really a lot of substance here. The singles from this album were a little confused, and this one only made it out in some European countries, but is perhaps a better choice than some tracks. Even lead single Lift Me Up seems to lack the power that it had a decade ago – again, it’s catchy, and it’s noticeably different from the preceding album, but it feels as though it’s lacking something too.
There are moments of brilliance – Where You End is lovely, with its enormous analogue bass riff – but there are also less certain moments, such as the cover of Temptation which follows. Nice, certainly, but a little uninspired.
Some of his earlier mistakes had definitely been learnt. Whereas Play and 18 had eighteen tracks apiece, and in the latter case that was definitely too many – despite the irony that might have ensued if it had included fewer – Hotel “only” has fifteen, making it feel slightly less of a commitment to listen.
Spiders is an odd choice for a single, which might explain why it wasn’t an enormous hit in the UK, although it is a good song. Dream About Me, which follows, is an even more improbable choice, entirely pleasant though it is, and it didn’t scrape the charts at all.
Some songs defy review somehow – Very feels as though it’s meant to be a powerful piece inspired by I Feel Love, but it falls rather flat unfortunately, perhaps due to the slightly less powerful vocalist, or maybe the less meaningful lyrics. It does precede my favourite track, the unique I Like It. Dirty, grimey, and intriguing, there’s definitely nothing else like it in this Hotel.
Love Should is a little unremarkable, but Slipping Away more than makes up for its failings. The French and Spanish versions which followed a year or so later were probably better, as was the Manhattan Clique‘s remix which isn’t on here, but it is at least one of the strongest songs on here. Otherwise there’s relatively little to get excited about towards the end – Forever, Homeward Angel and the bonus 35 Minutes are all nice tasters for what would follow on Hotel Ambient, but none of them really grab you or shake you in any particular way.
Caught between the Play–18 duo and 2008’s more imaginative Last Night, Hotel could easily be a bit of a lost cause. It definitely contains moments of Moby-by-numbers, and it’s certainly not quite as good in 2015 as it was in 2005, but for all of that it’s still a strong album.