If ever there was a testament to giving an album a second chance, this is it.
I clearly remember finishing this record and thinking “Well, that was… meh,” but I can’t tell you why. My best guess is that I broke my own rule. Yeah, I have a rule, and it’s this: never listen to new music while deep in work. I made the rule for exactly this reason. If I don’t pay the requisite attention, it’s all too easy to glaze over greatness.
And there’s greatness on this, the band’s 5th and—by my estimation—best album. If you were going to listen to one, this is it. Huge Bummer Alert: right after releasing Hotel Insomnia, they announced that they’re disbanding. At least they’re going out on top. 😭
Like of lot of the best shoegaze acts, For Tracy Hyde mix it up with other influences, though on this album they sound as close to “classic” shoegaze than ever. It’s notable that Ride’s Mark Gardener mastered this record; that could account for the overall tone, for sure. It certainly sounds amazing—layered, full, and punchy. It could also just be an inevitability. Azusa Suga is the band’s primary songwriter, and The Internet credits him with writing songs for other very shoegazey acts like AprilBlue, dots, and RAY. If recent, that marinade could explain this more concentrated direction.
“Estuary” is my favorite track right now. It’s aptly named; listening to it, I really can imagine floating out the mouth of a river and into a rolling tide. I’m here for weeping, droning guitars, and they come in on the first note and never stop. Mercy. The melody is gorgeous as well, with plucked strings punching a pattern through the wash of sound below.
Too many albums tend to loose steam toward the end, but Hotel Insomnia goes out swinging for the fences. The final trio of songs—“Milkshake”, “Subway Station Revelation”, and “Leave The Planet”—are all so good it’s curious that they’re not sprinkled back throughout the tracklisting. Not complaining, though. It certainly makes me want to hit the play button again. Reminds me of the feeling I get listening to Weezer’s Everything Will Be Alright In The End. I anticipate those final three songs the whole time. Anyways, “Milkshake” came out a couple months before the record release, and—again—I can’t explain what my deal was in not latching onto it like a barnacle because it is an amazing, crushing, thundering wave. And “Leave The Planet” infuses a heavy-as-hell shoegaze banger with some dang Crystal Method-esque knob-tweaking weirdness that somehow just works perfectly.
As swan songs go, you can’t ask for much better than this. Many of the band members were already part of other music projects (Ferri-Chrome, AprilBlue, So Shibano) and will continue to make music, but together they captured something special. I know I’ll miss it.
Godspeed, For Tracy Hyde.