Sweeping, intricately-arranged indie-pop anthems that seem eerily familiar.
Graveface Records, 2013
6.3 / 10
Lawrence, Kansas native Jordan Geiger originally began Hospital Ships as a solo outlet for his brand of low-key, folky bedroom-pop as heard on his 2008 debut, Oh Ramona, but the project soon formed into a full-fledged band, resulting in a larger and more expansive sound. Destruction In Yr Soul, the third album from Hospital Ships, is brimming with grand, sweeping anthems that lack nothing as far as catchy, melodic hooks, but one may feel a strong sense of déjà vu while listening to it.
The overall emotional vibe here is sorrowful-yet-uplifting, with modern indie-folk song structures that strongly recall, at various times, acts like Bon Iver, Lord Huron, and Woods — with a touch of the psychedelic aspects of the last — only with lush, textured arrangements that bring to mind Arcade Fire and Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips. Which seems great, and it is at times, except that most of the tracks on Destruction In Yr Soul lack the inspiration and creativity of those artists, instead sounding like watered-down reproductions. The melodies are definitely there, but Hospital Ships don’t really bring anything fresh and new-sounding to the mix, and therefore struggle to find their own identity.
Geiger’s yearning vocals and lyrics are quite evocative, however, somewhat reminiscent of Built To Spill frontman Doug Martsch’s wistful crooning, and they’re actually a high point of the album, bringing an emotional weight to tracks such as the gripping, “cell phones in the air” sing-along anthem “Come Back To Life,” and especially the stirring epic, “Lost Folk Song,” which begins as a traditional, finger-picking folk ballad before eventually morphing into a spirited, fuzzed-out rocker, enveloping the listener and providing a euphoric release after the slow buildup. The perpetual closing refrain of “she is gone, gone, gone” packs a rather powerful punch that highlights just how expressive and eloquent Geiger’s lyrics and vocals can be at times.
In the end, if there had been just a few more songs like the ones mentioned above to replace some of the standard, dime a dozen indie-pop ballads, Jordan Geiger and company may have had something pretty special on Destruction In Yr Soul. As it is, I can’t help but feel that there’s some wasted potential here. There’s no denying Geiger has a knack for creating great melodies and moving, nostalgia-laced lyrics, but hopefully next time he’s able to put it all together in a way that draws from the past while also looking toward the future.