Circa the early 21st century, many an alt-rock group seemed to be comprised of seemingly hopeless romantics, wearing their hearts on their sleeves (and looking like a bunch of "boys next door"). And certainly, the Burning Hotels fit this description -- to a T -- as evidenced by their 2010 full-length debut, Novels. Like quite a few rock bands of yore, on their debut disc the Burning Hotels lean a tad too heavily on the sounds of other renowned bands -- and in the process, they create tunes that sound akin to the same-sounding mainstream alt-rock you'd hear blaring when shopping at Urban Outfitters. On such tunes as the album-opening "Austin's Birthday," similarities to the Killers (especially singer Chance Morgan, who often bears a resemblance to the vocalisms of lead Killer Brandon Flowers) are noticeable. However, it quickly becomes clear that the Strokes are the Burning Hotels' main influence. And it's this influence that is prevalent throughout the disc, especially on such standouts as "Boy or a Girl," "Time," and "First Love" -- all of which contain some very Strokesy vocals and guitar work, as well as the Strokes' trademark "subway-racing tempo" (à la "Reptilia," "Juicebox," etc.). Add it all up, and you're left with an important question -- does this group of Texans bring anything new to the table? At this stage of the game, the answer is no, due to the aforementioned "too close for comfort" similarities to other bands. Time will tell if the Burning Hotels shed their influences and find their own voice on subsequent albums. And if they do, Novels could be looked back upon as an important building block.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato