The Honorary Title – Scream and Light Up the Sky
Record Label: Doghouse Records
Release Date: August 28, 2007
I was very surprised, to say the least. I liked most of The Honorary Title’s debut, Anything Else but the Truth, but towards the end, it lagged for me, and I never really made it through the whole thing. To grossly generalize, I appreciated their more, for lack of a better term, “emotional” material, like “Everything I Once Had,” or “Revealing Too Much,” but as the songs got slower and less engaging, I lost interest. So I pretty much expected the direction of their next album to get weirder, more indie, less accessible, less fun, etc. This simply wasn’t the case.
Scream and Light Up the Sky is a gorgeously arranged, thoughtfully written pop record, plain and simple. Jarrod Gorbel’s voice is exceptional here with melodies that are beautiful and countless. The instruments come together to create something that wouldn’t be the same without each one. As mature and distinctive the sound is, the guy is still writing about love lost, daddy issues, and being at a distance from the one you love (metaphorically and literally). It’s the wannabe-indie emo dude’s wet dream.
“Thin Layer” is a perfect opener. It’s fun, but not too carefree, setting the uneasy tone for the rest of the album. It starts out with Gorbel repeating, as if to convince himself, “So here is what I intended / Here is the truth,” and builds up to the realization of “Now it’s over / This is not what I intended,” and the listener is desperate to hear more of his story. Farther along on the album, “Far More” presents a portrait of Gorbel’s insecurity and apparent desperation. His expression of loneliness and longing, simple if not for the masterful instrumental buildup and variety of melodies, brings lines like “Well, you can't dictate the way / The way I'm gonna feel.” These feelings don’t go over the head of the listener, and this, my friends is the glory that is Jarrod Gorbel & co’s writing: simple, yet painful experiences on top of lush piano and (mostly) acoustic guitars.
Scream and Light Up the Sky represents the best of both worlds that The Honorary Title has made their own. You can have “The City’s Summer,” and jump and dance and “Na na na na” till you’re blue in the face, but in the back of your mind is “Even if,” and you’re brought down to earth with an uncomfortable reality; “an inconvenient truth,” if you will. Listen to the first ten seconds of “Along the Way,” and tell me that you don’t have goose bumps. Sing along to the irresistible one-liners like “Say it in your own way!” from “Radiate,” or “Is there nothing left?” from “Wait Until I’m Gone,” but quietly whisper along with “When can I claim you to be my own, my only?” from “Only One Week.”
Listen to this album alone, with room to feel like yourself, and appreciate this snapshot of someone just trying to figure it all out. It might help you as you try to do the same.
Shocked you didn't mention, 'Stay Away' in the review. By far, my favorite and one of the most powerful on the album. This band is bound to do great things. Great review. Good to know someone else appreciates this band as much as I do.