Review: Hotel Fiction: ‘Soft Focus’

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Hotel Fiction photographed by Sydonné Blake and styled by Katelyn Bass

Hotel Fiction’s debut album Soft Focus is finally out today. Written and recorded over the past two years, Soft Focus is a complete introduction to the potential Hotel Fiction brings to the table as musicians, writers, and creatives. It’s rare that a musical act steps forward with such a complete vision and polished presence, but Hotel Fiction has done just that and more – it’s no wonder they keep climbing. 

Since the release of “Astronaut Kids,” the duo has been hard at work gaining a following within and outside of Athens with five follow-up singles and multiple supporting tours. (Their first song has now garnered over a million plays on Spotify; they’ve also landed on two playlists curated by Spotify with their last single “Daydrifter.”) Now, in addition to their full-length album, they have an impressive line-up of show dates for the fall, including some dates opening for Adam Melchor. 

If you’ve seen the band perform live, it quickly becomes apparent that Jade, Jessica, and their band ensemble (which continues to expand) possess unique chemistry on stage and have the skills and experience to deliver their vision to its full artistic capacity. These same qualities that make them so fun to watch live translate extremely well throughout this record. With a clear understanding of what makes a good record and what makes a great record, they create their own multiverse throughout each song with hidden musical elements, overarching themes, and small little details that tie everything together. The rhymes and the melodies throughout are so well-crafted and the production so refined, you’ll keep hitting repeat.

Soft Focus is a collection of coming-of-age songs set in the current zeitgeist. Hotel Fiction knows what it feels like to grow into adulthood in a time of ecological collapse, political unrest, social isolation, and the shattered illusions of “you can be whatever you want to be.” “Soft Focus” — the title track — is an incredible tribute to each of these and is surely the thesis of the whole album. It both understands that sometimes life is a shitshow and “the world is on fire,” but reassures you that as long as you keep things in perspective (or… soft focus, rather), you’ll be just fine. Both lyrically and sonically, the song transforms from longing for simpler times into the vibrant, messy present. 

The album’s closer, “17,” is an emotional ode to missing the times you’ll never get back. It’s about leaving behind childhood. But also, about that moment when the floor gave out from under all of us and the things we loved so much (like dancing in our favorite clothes) were no longer an option. The bittersweet nostalgia of it all is ever so present here. By being themselves and telling their own stories, Hotel Fiction does what every band hopes to do which is connect with their listeners and make them feel less alone. 

Soft Focus is available for streaming now on all platforms.

If you want to experience the magic in person, head to the 40 Watt tonight to catch Hotel Fiction, CLOUDLAND, and Daddy’s Beemer perform.

Not in Athens? Catch them on tour!

  • 08/28 — Gainesville, FL
  • 08/29 — Lee, SC (Hypefest)
  • 09/09 — Asheville, NC
  • 09/10 — Atlanta, GA
  • 09/11 — Nashville, TN
  • 09/16 — Richmond, VA
  • 09/17 — Abingdon, VA
  • 09/24 — Athens, GA (Athfest)
  • 09/25 — Sevierville, TN
  • 10/12 — Cleveland, OH
  • 10/13 — Cincinnati, OH
  • 10/14 — Indianapolis, IN
  • 10/15 — Chicago, IL
  • 10/16 — Appleton, WI

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