Park Hotell's New Wavey Rock Makes the Cold Worthwhile
Name: Park Hotell
When They Started: 2003
Most Like: New Order, Peter, Bjorn and John,
The Sound: Sweet new wavey-pop to warm your icy soul.
Park Hotell’s commitment to rock came the hard way. They’re from Luleå, Sweden, a northern city within the Arctic Circle, which, in the words of lead singer Christian Ramirez, “makes Stockholm seem summery.” In the darkest cold for ten months out of the year, kids are forced to find meaningful hobbies, and in the case of Park Hotell the cold played an even bigger role in their coming together. A few years back, Lulea experienced the coldest day in a generation. When Christian trekked through the minus 45 degree celsius weather to get to school, he saw that only a few other students had turned up. He got to talking with a few other cold-bravers, and they became the core of Park Hotell.
The name Park Hotell might sound posh, but it’s actually the name of a seedy lodging nowhere near a park in Luleå. And Park Hotell’s sound is similarly misleading — it veers between the shiny pop of New Order, while landing us in the fuzz of Sonic Youth.
Once the band made it to Stockholm, they finalized their line-up: Christian, guitarist Jonas, Petter the bassist, and newcomer Daniel on drums. They also enlisted the help of singing sisters Johanna and Miriam, (who have now moved on to their own duo Taxi Taxi). Working their Lulea connection, they got hooked up with Swedish it-producer Jari Haapalainen, who performed in another hometown band, the Bear Quartet, and put out the well-received Free For Friends.
Park Hotell toured around Sweden, at some point opening for Franz Ferdinand. They somehow got the ear of Slimstyle Records, who just put their first album out in the US, called Layers. It’s of a compilation of prior work, and it leans poppy and electronic. Album single “Dead Ringers” is a dead ringer for the Smiths, with Christian’s melancholy vocals and Jonas’ jangly guitar blending like Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Meanwhile, “Low on Resistance,” mixed by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John, seems inspired by New Order.
Although Layers just dropped last month, along with a mini-tour in the US and SXSW dates, Park Hotell have already been working on their next album for some time. Their upcoming album will be very different from their prior work, going in a much more rock direction. “It’s much better,” Christian promises.