Nice can be such a horrible word. Nice was what girls at school called you when they didn’t fancy you but were too polite to say (bet that doesn’t happen anymore). Nice was the name of those strange biscuits that didn’t really taste of anything other than salt and sugar but somehow were never prosecuted for false advertising. Nice is a Hugh Grant film. Nice is inoffensive, perfectly acceptable I suppose but if pushed you’d have to admit to it being slightly bland and unexciting. Hospitality’s eponymous album is nice but in a strangely charming way. It’s a blend of guitar, drums, bass and Amber Papini’s straightforward vocal that your mum might nod along to, remembering the days she used to go to Field Mice gigs at the International 2 before she met your dad and started to bake brownies for the local salsa dancing class.
Nothing’s turned up to 11, distorted, processed, or experimented with, but there’s plenty of talent on show. Friend of Friends has the familiar bass drum chug of The White Stripes hardest button to button but with the rough edges smoothed out in favour of some unexpected occasional flourishes. Liberal Arts could come from any number of Belle and Sebastian albums but there’s a lovely time signature change that brings you back on-side after some meandering dumdumdedum distractions. All Day Today finds Carmen almost shouting to make herself heard over a song so relentlessly upbeat and chirpy it makes Haircut 100 sound like The Cure’s disintegration.
It’s all very sweet, but manages to avoid being saccharine because it’s music utterly without artifice. They don’t sound like they’re trying to be nice, they sound as if they really genuinely are. I’d guess that they’d be the politest band ever to come from Brooklyn, that they might go to the Phenomenal Handclap band’s parties but drink Dr Pepper and scold the guests for not using coasters. If your parents want a CD for their next dinner party that makes them sound like they’re still with the kids then buy them this one, and do yourself a sneaky copy.