CD Review: The Motels “The Last Few Beautiful Days”

The band known as The Motels has been creating music for almost fifty years. While the band has had a few hit singles over the years (which included “Only The Lonely,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and a few others), the band has been rather low-key. Between 1971 and today, the band has gone through several different versions, used several different names and has even gone through periods where there wasn’t a version of the band at all when lead singer Martha Davis was recording and touring under her own music.

After an extended period where The Motels were not a thing, Martha Davis and others formed a version of the band. This band created the album Clean Modern and Reasonable in September 2007, the first album from The Motels in 22 years. The current version of The Motels consists of: Martha Davis, Clint Walsh Guitar, Nic Johns Bass, Marty Jourard Keyboards and Sax and Eric Gardner Drums. This version of The Motels have created the newest album under the moniker of The Motels, 2018’s The Last Few Beautiful Days.

The Last Few Beautiful Days from The Motels begins with the song “Punchline”. The band has chosen the song as the first single off of the release. Although the band has been around for nearly forty years, it seems that Martha Davis has kept the feel of the band relatively close to what it had been all those years ago when they began. The feel of the track “Punchline” is very reminiscent to music that was played back in the early eighties. The Pop/Rock feel of this track actually brings to mind someone other than The Motels. In fact. “Punchline’s” musical direction seems rather similar to songs recorded by the likes of The Eurythmics as the track feels like something that duo would have done.

As the song called “Lucky Stars” begins, the listener is almost instantaneously transported back in time. Imagine going back to 1983 and putting on the radio. It was then that The Motels had their hit single “Suddenly Last Summer,” a track that peaked at #9 on the Hot 100. With the track of “Lucky Stars,” The Motels seem to have recaptured that very same magic that was present in that #9 single. While the two tracks don’t sound exactly the same (and they shouldn’t), they do feature much of the same magic in the music as if the two tracks were recorded during the same recording session and not thirty-six years apart. Needless-to-say, “Lucky Stars” could have been a smash hit back in ’83 and could be a smash today.

With the track “Look at Me,” the band changes the feel of the music. Where the previous songs contained a strong Pop/Rock feel to the music, “Look at Me” finds the band exploring a much stronger “Pop” feel as it is the keyboards that provide the music for the track. What ends up being created is a track with a soft, gentle delivery that blends some musical influence from the likes of English singer-songwriter and record producer Kate Bush. The lyrics to the track deal with going beyond the visual and seeing the real person inside. With the subject matter of the song being what it is, “Look at Me” feels very relevant in today’s turbulent times when people are trying to turn away from the concept of bullying.

Just as the song “Look at Me” with its message of “See me, I am an individual” comes to a close, The Motels follow that up with “Machine,” a track about the exact opposite. The lyrics of “Machine” deal with losing your identity as you blend in with everything and everyone around you until only One exists. The music of “Machine” contains strong keyboard sounds. It is the sound of the keyboards that mimic the feel of machinery. The track brings out the New Wave feel of The Motels’ music. As The Motels trace their roots back into the New Wave era, it is great to hear some of that New Wave feel in the band’s current sound.

Most of the songs on The Last Few Beautiful Days from The Motels feature an ensemble feel to the music, showing off the talents of each of the members of the band. However, with the track “Light Me Up,” the song is more like a solo track for Martha Davis. But as the track is one of four tracks on the release that was written solely by Davis, that’s not much of a surprise. The track features a slow pace and a light touch to the music, in a very Pop-like musical approach. The result is a track that feels and sounds like something that would either have come from a Broadway musical or from the soundtrack of a movie. Needless-to-say, this track has a very commercial feel to it.

Much like with the track “Lucky Stars” earlier in the album, the track “Tipping Point” takes the listener back in time to the days of New Wave. The keyboards on the track bring to mind a lot of the keyboard sound from that time period, giving the track a somewhat dated feel. You could imagine bands like OMD, Depeche Mode, Unltravox when listening to this track. In fact, the track feels most like something from OMD from around 1990. The track features original band member Marty Jourard as he adds some saxophone to the background of the track.

The Motels bring their latest album of The Last Few Beautiful Days to a close with the title track. Much like with the earlier track of “Light Me Up,” this song features a musical direction that puts Martha Davis front and center. And just like with “Light Me Up,” the reason is because “The Last Few Beautiful Days” is another of the songs written solely by Davis. Aside from the voice of Davis, the track also contains the piano, keyboards and strings to create one of the softer moments on the album. The lyrics about letting time slip away and the orchestral feel of the music combine to create a song that brings the release to a close on a rather emotional track.

For those who have enjoyed songs like “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Remember the Nights,” and “Only The Lonely” from The Motels over the last forty years, then the band’s newest release of The Last Few Beautiful Days should be an album you will enjoy. The reason for that is because the new release from The Motels feels like much of the band’s previous albums as the music of this album find Martha Davis and band drawing inspiration from the past.   

For a taste of the newest release of The Last Few Beautiful Days from The Motels, check out the band’s single called “Punchline”:

To check out The Motels’ latest album of The Last Few Beautiful Days, click on the album cover below: