For the past couple of years, four-piece indie band Saint Motel have been hard at work building a fan base in the Los Angeles area with solid live shows. Now, with a self-released debut album Voyeurs that dropped just last week, they are hopefully poised to reach a wider audience.
The bandmates seem a bit hesitant to categorize themselves (their Facebook page says “you tell us” under “Genre”), but probably the best way to describe their sound is retro-influenced indie-pop. But beyond their sound, I think their biggest selling point is their attitude. They have this way of presenting honest lyrics in a tongue-in-cheek manner with a playful vibe that sounds both cynical and hopeful all at once. Sort of like the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down, I suppose.
Take, for example, the song “Honest Feedback”, a satirical ode to criticism. “So many ways to put a foot in the hearse / A gun gets it done but there’s something much worse / It’s called honest feedback…Your tongue’s magic / Your tongue’s magic now.” This rather cutting lyric comes riding in on the waves of a surf-rock vibe that sounds just plain fun. Go figure. Or the song “Puzzle Pieces,” which deals with a plastic surgery obsession that apparently isn’t making things better for the person discussed in the song; this subject matter is set against a backdrop of Latin ballroom that you could imagine being played on Dancing With the Stars. It’s just this sort of irony that makes me really like this band. They’ve got something to say, but they say it with enough panache to make you smile.
Right now, Saint Motel doesn’t have the benefit of a major label or national promotion; what they do have is a solid Internet presence and solid blogosphere buzz. But most importantly, they have some substance behind the style, and for that, I think they deserve to be heard. I think this is a band with a bright future, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Voyeur takes them.