Violent Femmes – Hotel Last Resort

A posied and provoking record, Hotel Last Resort consolidates Violent Femmes as one of the greatest contributors to both the punk and the American musical canon

Album Review by Bethany Davison | 24 Jul 2019
  • Violent Femmes – Hotel Last Resort
Album title: Hotel Last Resort
Artist: Violent Femmes
Label: PIAS
Release date: 26 Jul

It might be questioned, over 35 years from their debut, how Violent Femmes seek to consolidate their relevance in the punk-sphere, especially in the face of such bands as IDLES and Fontaines D.C. infallibly voicing the anger of today’s youth. Perhaps this question gives light to their curious decision to feature pro-skateboarder Stefan Janoski on a new rendition of 1994’s I’m Nothing, which in return will see Janoski and Nike dedicate a shoe to the band. Hip? Or a desperate cling to relevance beyond the cult following that has surely aged with them.

If we are to push these remarks aside though, we can appreciate Hotel Last Resort as a fine collection of music. In its journey along the punk/folk traverse, it honours the soundscape that has consolidated the Femmes' extensive musical career. In its tracks that are consciously satirical (Another Chorus, I Get What I Want), and those that dabble in the darkness of political cynicism (Hotel Last Resort, Not OK), the record excites in pace and vitality. Though some tracks, when considered independently of the record, are simply tiresome.

Sleepin' At The Meetin' delights in its experimentalism as the Femmes marry punk and gospel, extending a nod to frontman Gordon Gano’s earlier side-projects. This, followed by a fresh take on Irving Berlin’s God Bless America, which finds its mid-section embellished with a sequence of improvised jazz, concludes the record in such a way that it encapsulates the project as a whole.

Hotel Last Resort is a collection of music that is poised and deliberate, provoked and provoking. Not a record to be taken at face value, it begs for a conscious listen, start to finish. It affirms Violent Femmes’ place as one of the greatest contributors to both the punk and the American musical canon.