Hospital Ships – Destruction in Yr Soul
In March of 2004, during my senior year of high school, I drove to Lawrence with my sister to see John Vanderslice. I can’t remember why my sister went with me, we never really hang out, but it was nice. It was an infinitely-late-for-a-school-night show at the Bottleneck and when we got there the opening band, Minus Story, was having a hell of a time getting set up. At this point in my youth I had been to maybe five shows on my own or with friends. It was still very new experience (my mother flat-out refused to let me go to KC or Lawrence until I was 18, and because of Catholic guilt, I mostly obeyed…mostly). “That band has TWO drumsets! Isn’t that wild!” I remember thinking. There were 8 people on stage (I’m sure it was fewer but it felt like there were 8 people on stage) and when the band finally played I experienced a very intense excitement. I’d just committed to KU a few days before and was moving up to Lawrence in the fall and here was a Lawrence band and they were weird and great and I’d go to the Bottleneck and see them all the time (although I think at that time Minus Story might still have been hailing from Boonville, MO but they might as well have been from Lawrence considering they were on almost every bill for every show I saw Freshman year). The next band was Okkervil River, who totally blew me away as they played to the 8 people who’d come out for JV. Okkervil River right when their second album Down the River of Golden Dreams came out and look at them now! And they’re one of my favorite bands! I always felt like that show was mythical. I loved JV and wanted to go, but it was gonna go way late and I had to get up way early the next day but I went anyway.
Now it’s almost ten years later and I’m listening to Hospital Ships frontman Jordan Geiger’s third album under the Hospital Ships moniker and I’m giddily thinking that I couldn’t possibly be more over the moon about this record. I was over moon about the last one, too. And when Hospital Ships’ debut Oh, Ramona came out the same time as Rooftop Vigilantes Carrot Atlas (both bands were inexplicably featured on Stereogum) it seemed to herald a new wave of local music. To watch a band grow by leaps and bounds over the span of three albums is a marvelous, marvelous thing. There is nothing more satisfying than having a set of expectations for the next album only to find that the band has exceeded them. Jordan Geiger has grown Hospital Ships into a full band and is making his best music yet. Everything on Destruction in Yr Soul clicks. Though Geiger’s voice seems particularly well suited for sadness, he has a gift for brightening up the elements around him. The band finally feels like it’s outgrown its bedroom origins. You can almost hear wizard-esque producer John Congleton coaxing the band out of its shell and into this big place of absolute potential. The album is monumentally bigger in scope than its predecessors, but feels like an entirely different animal. The songs roam these big sonic landscapes and while they have free reign to move around, they feel meticulously directed and lovingly crafted. Mostly, Destruction in Yr Soul makes me antsier than ever to move back to Lawrence, set down my roots, and enjoy this hearty Midwestern indie rock on a regular basis.