Today’s Song: London’s Echo Hotel Release a Warm Wash of Beautiful Sadness in “Hives”

Echo Hotel © Milly Blythe
Echo Hotel © Milly Blythe
A warm wash of sadness, the intimate “Hives” radiates regret, reflection, and longing as London’s Echo Hotel capture the visceral upheaval of raw heartache in stirring song.
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Stream: “Hives” – Echo Hotel




Most breakups come with some kind of baggage: There’s the residual pain of two becoming one; the hollow physical vacuum of a presence’s absence; the emotional void; and then, there’s the stinging weight of regret, the crushing self-doubt, and perhaps some questioning of one’s self-worth (e.g., is it me, is it you? Is it us? Is it our compatibility, or am I not fit for a relationship? Am I fit for love?)

It’s a lot, even in small doses. The smoothest, healthiest of breakups will present a little bit of each of these before you truly “bounce back” and move on. What’s the old adage? A little bit of suffering and reflection is good for the soul? Meanwhile, the worst breakups will have you dwelling in your own depths for weeks and months on end – and it’s that drowning, ever-present sadness that London’s Echo Hotel embody with such haunting grace on their new single. A warm wash of sadness, the intimate “Hives” radiates regret, reflection, and longing as Echo Hotel capture the visceral upheaval of raw heartache in stirring song.

Hives - Echo Hotel
Hives – Echo Hotel
I’ve broken out in hives
My chest is always tight
Buckled by the weight of my own
patronising privilege and ego like I knew
What’s best for you
so we went walking on the wreckage
until our feet were cut to shreds
from the times I reached into your chest
and smashed your heart against my own
into a thousand jagged shards I’ve sown like salt
into the fields
so nothing ever grows

Mixed and produced by Jonathan Segar and independently released November 5, 2021, “Hives” is Echo Hotel’s fifth overall song release and their second offering of the year, following late April’s soulful and searing “Hangers On” – a song full of its own vivid drama. Formed in 2015 and now consisting of vocalist and guitarist Ed Hambly, drummer Jack Holliday, bassist James Waldron, multi-instrumentalist James Storm (Goya, t l k) and keyboardist Jonathan Segar (Datura Roots Collective), the London-based alternative rock band have a proven track record of getting the most out vulnerable moments, with a preference for leaning into (rather than shying away from) life’s more intense experiences.

Songs like “Nocturne (For Jack & Jill)” and “Supervisor” showcase Echo Hotel’s ability to effortlessly blend deep intent and evocative emotion with rousing, powerful music; Ed Hambly’s vocals match his burgeoning songwriting talent, to the point where every one of Echo Hotel’s available songs (they’ve got more on SoundCloud and Bandcamp than they do on Spotify and Apple Music) is worth the listen.



Echo Hotel © Milly Blythe
Echo Hotel © Milly Blythe



It’s exciting to watch a new band get better and better over time, and “Hives” is without a doubt one of Echo Hotel’s finest releases yet. A heavy blanket of emotion and rich music, the song spellbinds through colorful melodies, nuanced guitars, and an overall sense of melancholy that creeps into every instrument’s work on the track. Hambly sings a poignant, bittersweet soliloquy: “I’ve broken out in hives,” he opens, “My chest is always tight, buckled by the weight of my own patronizing privilege and ego, like I knew what’s best for you.”

His moving imagery only escalates from there: “So we went walking on the wreckage until our feet were cut to shreds from the times I reached into your chest and smashed your heart against my own into a thousand jagged shards…

With verses deeper than most diary entries, “Hives” could serve as its own therapy session.

Confusion turns to rage
Conviction turns to guilt
My dad once told me
son you know that guilt’s a pointless thing to feel
if you wouldn’t go undo it if you could
Sometimes I wish I could
i’ve broken out in hives
My chest is always tight
oh I hope in time we’ll find a way
To navigate the debris field
Between us in the silence and the dark



Echo Hotel © Milly Blythe
Echo Hotel © Milly Blythe

“It’s a bit pathetic to moan that no one tells you how to end relationships in the ‘right’ way and it’s probably not even possible to do so, but it’s definitely possible to end relationships in absolutely the wrong way,” Echo Hotel’s Ed Hambly tells Atwood Magazine. “I guess ‘Hives’ explores that. It doesn’t matter if it happens through inexperience, neglect or a complete lack of empathy; if you’re not vigilant you can keep someone on the emotional payroll and drag things out for far longer than is necessary. I did that when I was a bit younger and it’s such a depressing, disappointing male cliché.”

“Hives” is the kind of song that doesn’t just depict or relay sadness; it dwells in it, completely engulfing its listeners. The band’s jazzy guitar licks and their hypnotic vocal harmonies work together in inducing a state of warm melancholia that ebbs and flows throughout the song. We’re left shaken by the open wounds of heartache. It’s not that the narrator is “heartbroken,” per se, but rather, they are simply broken inside: Shattered, navigating the trauma of loss, trying to figure out what’s happened and how to pick up the pieces.

For as ugly as breakups can get, “Hives” is beautiful.

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Stream: “Hives” – Echo Hotel



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Hives - Echo Hotel

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