Hotel Books' I'm Almost Happy Here But I Never Feel At Home is well-versed prose that at times can be a bit repetitive. Each verse has elements that are thought provoking and heartfelt which helps carry the album to make up for the repetition. The tone sets in almost immediately with the opening song, “Lose One Friend,” and quickly gets you accustomed to Cam Smith's vocal style, which can lack structure at times, but it works. His voice is pleasantly jagged and is both harsh and soothing but also lacks a melody that the album desperately needs. There are times where it feels like it’s going to pick up and have more of a traditional hardcore sound but it never does. Instead it sticks with the spoken word format that can get a bit tiresome and feel like a rehearsed open mic poetry session.
I'm Almost Happy Here... has an ambient sound that clashes a bit at times with the vocals and seems like it’s telling a completely different story. Despite the clash between the vocals and music, Hotel Books flawlessly delivers its spiritual message. Cam's ability to translate feelings into lyrics shines in tracks like “Nicole” and “America's Next Model.”
It felt at times like the tracks didn't end but, blended seamlessly from one song to the next; which can make the album seem like one long piece and can be a bit monotonous, however, the monotony is broken with the song “Cult Leader” the 8th and standout track that saves the album from being too boring. I'm Almost Happy Here doesn't excel in any one particular way, but does a little bit of everything well enough to keep you listening.
The tone the band creates has a charming mystical aura that's reminiscent of albums like Mother Juno by the infamous Gun Club, Clouds Taste Metallic by The Flaming Lips, A Healthy Distrust by Sage Francis, and has a slight hint of An American Prayer by Jim Morrison and The Doors.
From start to finish, I'm Almost Happy Here... puts you in a trance-like state that isn't at all interrupted by (but is well balanced by) Cam Smith's screams and takes you deeper into the mind of a troubled yet deeply conscious poet. Recommended for anyone who enjoys poetry and well thought, well-structured lyrics accompanied by a talented, at times eerie, atmosphere that is not only soothing but helps convey the feelings that the album's title suggests.
7.0 / 10
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