The latest effort from singer-songwriter Jarrod Gorbels 'The Honorary Title', steps into a new musical territory, picking up a few band members and some pop, rock, and indie rock influences along the way. Unlike their previous releases, 'Scream and Light Up the Sky' charges through a more rock oriented path, rather than lyrical and melody based, with great success. Reaching the levels of anthemic at times, if this album doesn't have you tapping your feet, it can still grab you with the folk pop melodies evident in most of the softer songs, or just the rich, smooth, and captivating vocals.
While the album takes a step back from their lyrical based older recording, that certainly doesn't mean that the lyrical quality has gone poor. Quite the opposite, actually. The lyrics are excellent throughout and always fitting to the style of songs they accompany. In 'Stuck at Sea', the song title serves as a metaphor for the feeling of young love, or in other words, your first time. The song begins with the exciting feeling of the first time, as the vocals emphasise before the chorus, "You overcompensate for your own inexperience / Don't underestimate, oh, my fear of getting caught". As the song progresses into a more melancholic bridge, the vocals go deeper and slow down, "I'll keep burning my fingers In attempt to rekindle the flame The match is too flimsy And the wind just annuls her name". The lyrics progress with the music, shifting lyrical tones directly parallel to the musical shifts of the songs.
The vocals on the album are impeccable. Gorbels rich voice is appealing, thoughtful, and emotional, and without it, many of the songs on the album wouldn't work to the same extent that they do with him leading the soaring choruses. He can lead a song nonchalantly, not missing a syllable ("Even If"), he can hold a distinctly powerful tone in a Matt Bellamy-esque fashion ("Thin Layer"), he can create and gradually build a feeling, before exploding in a beautiful peak, and seamlessly continue ("Radiate"), and he will not hesitate to be delicate with the songs, as well as playful ("Along The Way). Ultimately, it's his voice that separates this band from many of the other groups seeking to replicate this borderline mainstream and indie rock sound.
The first half of the album stubbornly hoards the straight forward not-quite-arena-not-quite-anthemic-but-nearly-there rock songs (including single, 'Untouched and Intact') like a cheap whore with her side street corner. As "Radiate" comes to a close, the more melody based songs, reminiscent of their older work in many ways, begins with "Along The Way", a song best described as pop-folk. 'The City's Summer', an upbeat song made instantly significant with the chanted 'na na na's seems out of place amidst the soft and slower 'Only One Week', 'Wait Until I'm Gone' and 'Even If'. Overall, start to finish, this album hardly disappoints and proves the band deserve far more recognition then they get. It's not innovative, and yes, this kind of music has most certainly been done before but honestly, as I find myself singing along to the chorus of "Radiate", I couldn't care less.
Fans of the older THT, do not fret. I will not deny that the band is taking a huge step in a different direction, however, they create a more dynamic and enjoyable sound then their previous releases. If you've listened to one or two older songs from the band and found them bland, give this a chance. You won't be disappointed. For those of you previously oblivious to the existence of this record, do not deprive yourself of this.