“It’s hard not to feel deflated when even your best isn’t good enough.” A quote from David Attenborough, English broadcaster and naturalist, accurately describes the album Nothing Was Missing Expect Me in a nutshell. The quote appears at end of the first track, setting up the entire album’s theme from the get go.
This is the type of music listeners find when they seek to see the world from another person’s time-rattled perspective. Hightide Hotel is classified as emo, however it doesn’t deserve the bad rap people tag on the genre. Their music, far more than just whining, conveys a search for hope.
Lyrically, the entire album is a disastrous masterpiece of emotion and life experiences. David Sampson, front man and singer of the group, clearly bares his soul to the audience while revealing that he is upset with the person he has become. “Some people make an art of watching life pass by. Not me, I watch the watchers, I’m that far behind.” He does come off as whiny at times, but then again doesn’t every person come to the point in life where they have to spill their guts? The lyrics he nearly yells tell stories of fear, agony, dreams, lost love and what the singer believes is useless hope. Pain is clearly shown in his voice while he shreds away at his distorted guitar. It’s very obvious that his heart longs for someone so far away him. Stuck in that someone’s hometown, Sampson reminisces on times long past: “I was searching your bedroom for any signs of life. Abandoned books and dusted keepsakes were all that I could find.” Honestly, the singer does dwell on the past, but it all comes down to human nature in the end. However, an overall story of self-discovery is conveyed in the well written lyrics.
The music that accompanies Sampson’s lyrics could be described as a dysfunctional three-man orchestra. The other two members of the band, Christopher Thomas and Benjamin Schmidt, find interesting instruments to throw into the semi-chaotic mix: trumpets, bells, keyboards, and so many types of percussion it’s hard for the human ear to keep up with. The instrumentation is jumbled together in a way that could only be sorted out by Sampson’s voice. He seems to unite all the commotion with his clear delivery, almost like a person’s own voice of reason calming all their jumbled thoughts. In many ways the album could be considered Sampson’s conscience searching his mind for better times and a way out of the pain. “And I can imagine an ocean of water for miles hanging above my head…But I’d rather not imagine how this ends.”