Honor Bright - Build Hearts From Stars (Deluxe Edition)
Record Label: Aux Records
Release Date: December 9, 2008
Comparing any band to Taking Back Sunday is an inherently risky venture, especially when invoking the powerful name of the Long Islanders' seminal Tell All Your Friends. This comparison is completely worth the risk, though, when it comes to Syracuse, New York, pop-punk outfit Honor Bright and their refreshing full-length, Build Hearts From Stars. This album serves as a reminder to all the naysayers and cynics in the music community that pop-punk and the scene are far from dead.
The first seconds of "Bull In a China Shop" set the tone for the rest of this exercise in classic pop-punk. The driving guitars and passionate vocals make comparisons to Tell All Your Friends inevitable. As the song progresses, the knack for melody and hooks become apparent. The vocals are fierce and honest, without studio alteration, and the production is raw and simple, serving to complement rather than disguise the song (as many of today's bands would have it do). Beyond all this, though, the song just plain rocks. It is simple, to the point, and everything that pop-punk should be.
The first track sets a precedent that continues throughout the album. "Side Effects May Include Heartbreak and Self Loathing" features a solid riff and some well-placed gang vocals, while "I Gotta See a Thing About a Girl" features vocal harmonies reminiscent of Midtown. The thing that is so exceptional about Honor Bright is the energy and passion they bring to what has become a tired and clichéd genre of synth-laden songs about sex. The honesty and simplicity of the songwriting are apparent in the stripped-down production, and it is clear that this album was born of a love for music, not money.
That isn't to say that Build Hearts From Stars is perfect. The last few songs on the album proper don't hit as hard as the rest of the album do and find the band failing to use to the fullest the energy that make songs like "Kid Tested, Mother Approved" and "Stage Dives and High Fives" so stellar and gripping. Furthermore, despite the refreshing return to form, Honor Bright have made an album characteristic of the 2002 pop-punk scene. In 2009 (or 2008, when this was re-released), this serves as a nostalgic venture, but not one that is progressive or innovative by any stretch. While Build Hearts From Stars is a fun look into pop-punk's past, it fails to introduce anything new to the genre, which is a shame, because with this kind of energy and talent, Honor Bright are likely to be a big name in the scene in no time. That isn't to say Honor Bright doesn't deserve any success they may come into; however, it would be nice to see them flexing their creative muscles and pushing the boundaries of a style at which they excel and could very well come to dominate.
This album is a solid, fun, and invigorating effort that features everything that pop-punk was once and still should be about. Honor Bright's Build Hearts From Stars is an excellent pop-punk album that more than deserves the frequent comparisons to one of the genre's formative and most important albums, Tell All Your Friends, and positions this band to become the saviors of a genre that has so recently become inundated with clichés and copycats.