Hospitality’s self-titled debut was a lovely but monochromatic collection of brisk indie pop anchored by fluttering acoustic riffs, Smiths-indebted electric guitar and faintly British-sounding vocals. The Brooklyn trio’s second record, Trouble, almost entirely eschews these twee touchstones — only the pastoral, flute- and horn-augmented “Sunship” and the guitar-and-voice folk dirge “Call Me After” hearken to the first record’s cozy atmosphere. The band’s evolution is a successful one: On Trouble, Hospitality explores a more luxurious sound bolstered by eerie retro synths (the gothic-tinged new wave nightmare “Rockets and Jets,” buzzing synthpop kiss-off “Inauguration”), prominent bass lines (the marching “I Miss Your Bones,” which resembles Gang of Four’s scraping post-punk) and noisy syncopated drums (the prog-influenced, hefty rocker “Nightingale”).
Trouble‘s high point, “Last Words” — a disco-tinged surge about feeling emotionally bereft — segues from chilly keyboards to glassy piano and, later, a Lindsey Buckingham-esque guitar solo. And even though vocalist Amber Papini sounds subdued as she sings about feeling trapped by circumstances (“I took a boat to Eden/ Priest was there to greet me on the sand/ He led me to a gate/ You enter once but never leave again”), her lyrical anxiety doesn’t dampen Hospitality’s adventurous path. Trouble is a daring leap forward.