Honor Bright – Build Hearts From Stars (Deluxe Edition)
Release Date: December 9, 2008
Record Label: Aux Records
Many good things defy logic. There’s love, women, and the Governator being in charge of the most populous state in the Union. Add to that list this album, Build Hearts From Stars. The title makes very little sense, the album art even less so, but in spite of all of this (to be fair, that stuff doesn’t mean much) the album manages to impress all the way through. What else would you expect from a band that made both its MTV and Warped Tour debuts in ’08?
Build Hearts From Stars hits the ground running with “Bull In A China Shop,” a strong opener featuring prominent and well-deployed backing vocals, along with bountiful energy and a truckload of intent. It is immediately clear that Honor Bright have more of an edge than their saccharine-sweet pop-punk contemporaries, giving an emotionally charged and honestly-written performance though the course of the album.
The second song, “Tapdancer,” has more of the creativity and energy of the song preceding it. Honor Bright really don’t believe in rigid song structures, chopping and changing their sound throughout their songs, but they must be commended for the fact that their transitions simply work and don’t stick out like a sore thumb, thus avoiding stagnation in their sound while keeping everything coherent.
The singer sounds very similar to All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth in the first few seconds of “Side Effects May Include Heartbreak and Self-Loathing” and while some may see this as “another cliché of the genre,” the singing is spot-on here. So much so, in fact, that Honor Bright seem to have said a firm ‘no’ to the vocal effects and studio magic that plague vocals in music nowadays, leaving raw, stripped-down vocals that only add to the sound of the album.
Both “Kid Tested, Mother Approved” and “Take My Hand” continue to showcase how the band manages to stick to their style without obviously borrowing from the rest of their work and yet they retain their appeal and enthusiasm from track to track. “Stage Dives and High Fives” does much the same, being yet another catchy, creative and well-constructed song from the band.
The harmonies in “I Gotta See A Thing About A Girl” are great, but I wish that they had more use of them both on this song and on the rest of the album, as they evoke thoughts of Mayday Parade, which is never a bad thing. “The Situation,” “You Sure Can’t Keep a Secret” and “Normal” complete the original track listing of the album, although “The Situation” is perhaps the weakest of these. The latter two tracks, however, continue to combine all of the good things that I have already mentioned about this band and yet they still are able to avoid turning themselves into the same cliché that seemingly every other band is becoming.
Both of the bonus tracks that come with this deluxe re-issue (“I Gave You My Heart, You Gave Me A Pacemaker” and “If Only They Knew”) are acoustic songs. Both are full of raw emotion and make full use of their three vocalists, sometimes reminding me of Tell All Your Friends-era Taking Back Sunday.
What is sure is that all of Build Hearts From Stars is well-conceived, well-written and well-executed, with the production complimenting the sound perfectly. These factors combine to make this record a must-buy and marking the band as a definite “one to watch.”
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