The Honorary Title | Scream and Light Up the Sky (Doghouse)

cd_honorary.jpgA line from "Only One Week" rather sums up the album for me, as Gorbel sings, "Communication is not what it used to be."

 

 

 

 

 

Jarrod Gorbel and Co. are back, this time with an emphasis on the Co. Whereas The Honorary Title’s emo-singer-songwriter debut Anything But the Truth was a tell-all lover’s dream, Gorbel has assembled a band to create Scream and Light Up the Sky. The results are a mixed bag: still the same distinct, rich yet nasally voice, but more emphasis on the rock ‘n’ roll arrangements and less on the sparse melodies and cutting lyrics.

The album opens well with "Thin Layer," which finds Gorbel insisting, "Here is the truth." A straight-ahead indie rocker, the song rollicks at a steady pace before giving way to the soaring, upbeat "Stay Away." It’s soaring, with carefully layered vocals and guitars…and therein lies the problem. The Honorary Title, complex and upbeat? Lyrically, the song still speaks of confusion and indecision, but whereas Truth was chock-full of personal stories and admissions, Scream is more generic and general. And, frankly, I miss the personal.

The guitar intro to "Untouched and Intact" sounds familiar, and that is both compliment and detriment. This song is indie-rock radio-ready, and may very well be the track that launches The Honorary Title into a more fitting mainstream. Here, Gorbel’s voice is deliciously tempting against cascading guitars; you’ll want to spin this one again. Were it stripped down, "Stuck at Sea" could fit among the tracks on the debut; thankfully, the next song, "Far More," takes things down a notch, but somehow never gets off the ground—a fate which also befalls a couple other tracks, as well.

An upbeat piano intro distinguishes "Along the Way," leaving room for Gorbel’s voice to take center stage. Still, the "ba ba’s" are more than a little distracting, and the words still not the caustic, personal ones by which I’ve been spoiled. Gorbel steals from the Replacements (and not good Replacements, either) with the "na na" intro to "The City’s Summer."

Sadly, a line from "Only One Week" rather sums up the album for me, as Gorbel sings, "Communication is not what it used to be." Scream is a decent effort from a talented singer-songwriter and his band. But you no longer feel you’ve been given free reign over the inner fears and happenings of a creative man; now you have to share him as he tries to reflect back the world. A toss up, but still better than much of what’s out there. B- | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Dashboard Confessional, Copeland

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