I hardly felt as if I could feel any more affinity with Christian Holden, the bassist, lead singer and chief songwriter for Worcester, Massachusetts-based The Hotelier, but when he greets me in the lobby of London's Scala, he's wearing a Los Campesinos!-themed football shirt. A gift, Holden explains, from Gareth Campesinos! himself, emblazoned with that band's slogan-cum-ironic mantra: "DOOMED."

I was at university when Los Campesinos! released the album from which that catchphrase is taken - 2008's gorgeous We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed - and for a while I wore two pin badges, reading WAB and WAD, on the straps of my backpack. There's a strange satisfaction to be had from this endearing confluence of two artists you admire so much.

And let's face it: with the Hotelier, it's not just admiration. It can't be.

The band's second album, Home, Like Noplace Is There, released in 2014, was an extraordinary record. Its collection of endlessly and effortlessly catchy pop-punk tunes, which would undoubtedly have stood up on their own, were elevated to devastating heights by Holden's excoriating, confessional storytelling. His lyrics tell a specific story, but it's a story it's impossible to not become involved with, to internalise, to cast yourself in as the role of the protagonist. With the Hotelier, it's not just admiration. It's devotion.

On Home's closing track, 'Dendron', Holden sings: "I cut off my arm at the bone in solidarity." It is the kind of metaphor begging to be clumsily repurposed by music writers. His lyrics communicate the pain of others as much as his own, they paint an image of teenage years spent not just struggling with growing up, but watching your friends suffer through the same crisis.

The album became a particularly personal statement for me. As its title might suggest, Home, Like Noplace Is There is an album about home, about the struggle for belonging and the comfort, and discomfort, of familiar (and familial) surroundings. A few months before it released, I moved back to my hometown for the first time in seven years. The themes of the album, of those teenage relationships that coalesce and disintegrate around the primal emotions of adolescent melancholy, and the desperation to which they can drive you, tapped into the wave of nostalgia I was already riding. To immerse yourself in the Hotelier's world is to cut off your arm in solidarity, to feel every raw and white hot emotion the band invokes.

The album's dramatised story of a tortured youth picked up from the band's debut, It Never Goes Out, which itself was written when the band were just still living through the scenes of frustrated high school ennui that record painted. Their latest effort, Goodness, was released at the end of May, and rounds off a thrillingly complete trilogy, bringing the story out of adolescence and onto the verge of adulthood, with the band figuring out their places in the world.

"I tend to be a little reserved when just explaining the record, but it's generally not a love record, but a record about love," says Holden. "Through a more spiritual lens than before. It's sort of a rising from the ashes of Home, Like Noplace Is There. It's building on a feeling but in a different way. If Home was peaks and valleys, this is like a constant throughout the record. We were trying to mess around with that kind of idea through how you arrange the instruments and how you arrange the structure of the songs."

That attention to detail and sense of structure permeates everything the Hotelier do. The three parts of the band's discography so far form a classic arc, with Home its dark, pessimistic low-point: that album's despondent closing lyric was an invitation to "tell me again that it's all in my head." Goodness is very much the Return of the Jedi to Home's Empire Strikes Back, as Holden's cast of characters emerge from their lowest ebb into the best impression of optimism they can muster.

"I think the way that I've always thought of Hotelier is that our songs aren't just a collection of words," Holden says. "Songs have their own arc, albums have their own arc, and our whole discography will have its own arc. I always am writing a record in response to the last record, to allow them to flow and follow into each other.

"So Home was a record written in the suburbs when I was home, thinking about how I related to the place that I grew up now, a couple of years from graduating high school. It Never Goes Out was a record in the same place just while I was in high school, and Goodness is... my friend Alyssa described it like this this and I thought it was apt, it's about Charlton being on the edge of rural Massachusetts and a suburb of Worcester that it delves more into the woodsy side and there's a bit of a more natural feel to it."

A certain geographical rootedness - Charlton, Mass. is one of the two towns in which the Hotelier's members grew up and went to school, the other being neighbouring Dudley - is inherent in the band's music, but it is not necessarily a specific geography. In a recent Reddit AMA, Holden mentioned that he'd recently been listening to Mount Eerie, an act whose influence feels quite profound on Goodness's sense of place. Phil Elverum is an artist who describes his records as "album-length song-worlds" and, as I have written elsewhere, aims for nothing less than a Joycean reconstruction of his own existence through his art. The Hotelier may not resemble Mount Eerie sonically, but there is undoubtedly a similarity in their lofty ambitions.

Their world might be the open fields and enclosed suburban streets of western Massachusetts, but it is also any hometown which represents frustration, the dead-end of home. It is any small city where there is little for a group of young teenagers to do except forge too-tight friendships doomed to tragedy, and break into construction sites for fun. Certainly, the Massachusetts stories painted on the band's first two albums sounded to me eerily reminiscent of my own alternately well-spent and wasted young years in Yorkshire, despite the obvious cultural gulf.

"I think it matters a lot less with the culture," says Holden. "I think a lot of musicians, if you listen carefully you can figure out where they're from, you can hear where they're from. If you listen to a lot of New York artists, a lot of their music is really busy and really noisy, which is very similar to what New York is, and if I listen to my friends bands who play in western Mass., it's more about using space more, and they live in literally a huge spread out area.

"In the same way, I think where you grew up and where you live and where you have fondness for, you are trying to build these landscapes of music that match what you love which is where your home is. Worcester itself is just a small city, a pretty humble city that has no... the things that are of note - do you know Bob's Burgers? The guy that does the voice of Bob, H. Jon Benjamin, he's from Worcester. The Coors Light twins are from Worcester. Emma Goldman had an ice cream shop in Worcester. Those are the things that we cling on to," Holden laughs.

Goodness is steeped in that sense of space. For much of the album, Holden's voice is buried in the mix, with Sam Frederick's loose, luscious percussion and Chris Hoffman's crisp, open-stringed lead guitar. The band's intelligent use of varied time signatures, led by Frederick's impassioned drumming, lends Goodness its relentless sense of purpose, of forward movement.

The record is interspersed with several field recordings, whose titles are co-ordinates giving locations to meaningful events in Holden's childhood. One of those recordings opens the album and constitutes simply a reading of a poem. It's a bold move, to put this up front; the kind of deliberately earnest moment that could seem mawkish if it wasn't backed up by a genuine sense that this is an artist who knows exactly what he's doing by putting it there. The poem establishes several of the album's themes, particularly in the line "you in this light feels new, woken." For all the shades of darkness that still linger in its corners, Goodness is bathed in a warm, hopeful glow. That awakening motion dark to light, from adolescence to adulthood, is the story at the album's heart, and it marks the true progression of the band, musically and emotionally from their previous work.

When Holden sings on 'Settle the Scar' that he's "prepared for fucking up", it sounds a world away from the from the version of himself on Home's 'The Scope of All This Rebuilding' who mourned, "I'll blame myself 'cos that is all I've ever known." Of the many forms of goodness that Goodness is about, it is that reaction to adversity, the willingness to let things fuck up and fight for a brighter tomorrow rather than indulging in self-pity, that drives the album's emotional drama.

For a band often characterised - and self-acknowledged, if seemingly begrudgingly so - as 'emo', Goodness is an album curiously bereft of many of that genre's most obvious markers. Also notable by its absence is Holden's guttural scream, previously most prominent during Home's desperate, visceral mid-section. Here he opts for a far more reserved vocal range, often borrowing an early Michael Stipe-style half-spoken affectation. Shortly before the album was released, Holden blogged about the "silliness" of guitar rock bands, of the struggle to represent any kind of realness while engaging in what is essentially a performance.

But Goodness, thankfully, is not a winking, knowing album, struggling to come to terms with its own gravitas. For all that the Hotelier resemble traditional "emo" less and less, their writing remains in touch wit the genre in its commitment to an honest portrayal of emotion; there is something close to a Keatsian understanding of what goodness is, what it means to be good, in the band's dedication to unearthing the truth behind a feeling.

"On a timeline of what I understand about how emo in the music industry works, I do sort of understand how our band fits in with all of it, so in terms of that, I do get why we're called 'emo,'" Holden says. "I think it's not similar to how, or it's less similar to how I feel like bands used to be lumped in the emo genre. I feel like a lot of people are doing similar work and it was understood as to why they were grouped together. Bands in every genre are making different styles and are playing within the same box but are interacting within that box very differently.

"So I don't really care about how we're categorised. Some of the bands that I grew up on listening to, I mean, I was young, just starting to learn guitar and write songs when MySpace Music was big, and that's where I got most of my music. And so I did grow up on bands like Thursday and like we said, I really did like Los Campesinos!. I liked the Starting Line and Copeland. I was a big fan of Rilo Kiley. I was lucky to be surrounded by lots of people with huge iTunes libraries, so I was listening to a lot of stuff and I just spent most of my time after school just listening to music or downloading loads of music.

"Matt Laverne, who shot our album cover, [yes, that album cover] was the source of most of the music I was getting into. He listened to a tonne of music and he's still an avid music fan, I got most of my music through him and through his cousin, it was integral to our friendship, where you're always going to shows and introducing each other to music. Really sharing music as a connection."

The most interesting thing about the move away from the High Fidelity stereotype of young enthusiasts discovering the musical world around them, from dusty old boxes of records to file-sharing and social networking, is how many of them have harnessed those platforms for distributing their own music, and forging that musical connection with their fans. My own musical odyssey began just on the cusp of the cross-over between the two eras, and I remember the excitement of feeling an entire history open up in front of you when our house got its first broadband connection.

"Being able to illegally download music, and MySpace, and just get exposed to music, I think made it so much easier for bands to get big without having to be either industry made or industry-pushed," notes Holden. "Just being able to share it in that way is huge for kids in high school who just want to play out and helps them be discovered in some sort of regard, and just make friends too because making friends with other bands in other parts of the country is one of the ways you're able to tour to begin with."

My first exposure to the Hotelier, on the other hand, was somewhat more traditional. I hadn't even started reading Pitchfork's review of Home before I knew I'd be checking the album out - something about that title, that artwork, already had me hooked. The review itself - hugely positive - was a mere formality. There are many criticisms that can be levelled at a media outlet with the levels of domination that Pitchfork possess, but the site has placed itself firmly in the Hotelier's corner over the past couple of years, and as Holden points out, people tend to have less of a problem with Pitchfork when it's fighting on your side. It was the only major publication to review the reissue of It Never Goes Out, and last year it invited the Hotelier to play at its Chicago festival.

"It's really great, obviously!", Holden jokes. "I do think that there's a funny thing with Pitchfork where they are an authority on music, but people dislike that. They also like it if they're getting good praise from it. I do think it's interesting. We were playing Pitchfork Festival last year and I was trying to visit some of the bands I hadn't heard of. I was listening to Jenny Hval, and I hadn't listened to Jenny Hval before, and I was like, 'What place does this artist have in music?' How else, if not for something like Pitchfork, would this person, who's making really interesting, challenging music and art, how else would she be able to get the credit that I think she deserves?

"I think Pitchfork does interact with music that is more on an artistic sensibility, or - and I'm not trying to say that our music is more artistic - but most of the music that they review positively is music that usually doesn't get the time of day because it's not as commercial and I respect that a lot. But it's helped because we got to play Primavera probably because we got a good review and that does help us, so that's nice."

And what a wise move it was, on the part of Pitchfork's bookers, to add the Hotelier to their line-up. Live, the Hotelier are a force to be reckoned with; what's more, they appear to genuinely enjoy it. At the Scala, with nearly the entire audience bellowing the words to every track from Home, I was astonished by the scale on which this band have quietly but clearly broken through. Like I said: the Hotelier inspire devotion. On a certain level, everyone who loves this band wants to believe they are a member of the Nite Ratz Club.

At the show's opening, Holden emerges alone onto the stage to perform an unaccompanied a capella rendition of the pre-album single 'Goodness Pt.1', and can't help but break into a smile at several points throughout the track before he is joined by his bandmates.

"Yeah, I love playing shows, I love playing shows to audiences," says Holden. "The travel... the travel can wear you down. But this is the one way that it exists. If I could rearrange the world and make it exist in a different way in which I could be able to perform and not have to do it this way then I probably would, but that doesn't exist. So this is the best it can be."

In a funny sort of a way, there is no clearer description of Goodness, no more pithy a summation of the record's themes and the philosophy of this band in 2016: This is the way things exist. Make it the best it can be.