Sound: Hold your horses. This is and isn't the typical 'pop-punk' record being released in today's scene. Honor Bright's newest release 'Action! Drama! Suspense!' brings in a fresh dose of energy and positive feeling music that should turn some heads away from the overly mixed and overproduced music that loses genuine feeling. The Syracuse, NY Quintet Honor Bright consists of Liam DiCosimo (Vocals), Tim Paige (Guitar/Vocals), Ryan Gilmore (Guitar/Backing Vocals), Anthony Merritt (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Curt Henry (Drums/Vocals). Formed in 2006 they tried to form a unique sound that let their influences be apparent, yet still retain their own feel. Action! Drama! Suspense! is their 2nd full length, but first for Triple Crown Records. They're happy, fast, energetic, groovy and at the same time won't let you forget where they came from. DiCosimo's vocals have tremendously improved over past releases. He and Paige sound more focused and set in with each other that is reminiscent of old Taking Back Sunday dual vocals. Each song is very well written, with no songs feeling like filler. In my opinion the album if full of great songs with good hooks and 'gang vocals'. Having had the opportunity to watch the band evolve from the early days, its really great to see them show respect to their home and promote it to the local area, and gain some attention for other bands who start like them. I'll give a little bit of a view to each song here:
1. How To Break A Heart: This is not your typical pop-punk album, this song will prove that to you. It opens with driving almost metal guitar riffs and at first makes you wonder if you bought the right album. Then DiCosimo opens in with 'I think you were expecting a love song...' Right there you know this is something different and fresh. They don't shy from writing about girls ('I'll write your name in a song, and call you wrong'), or old loves, but they do it with a sound that is full and doesn't sound thin or over produced. Paige and DiCosimo set the pace for the album trading vocals throughout that give the song (and all those after it) a group feel that keeps you interested.
2. Sleepless in Syracuse: Early in the album they want you to know where they're from, the scene they represent. Another good proof of the years of work between Paige and DiCosimo to trade vocals and make it sound and work together. The chorus is fairly slow and simple but beckons you to sing it over and over again. It will get stuck in your head, but you won't mind.
3. Paper Thin Walls: One of the earliest songs to be debuted in their video updates about making the album, it centers around simple guitars over a groovy bass line and dual vocals. The drums are fast but don't detract from the song. The song is about just wanting to stay with the girl forever wrapped up on a day off. 'You hold my attention, the way you hold my heart' is a great job writing poetically simple songs that still have good feel.
4. Off Limits: Song starts slow but builds after the first verse. Obviously a breakup song about the girl that got away. However, the song doesn't dwell on it and instead is a toast to getting over it and getting back to life. A refreshing move from albums written about being depressed or girls dumping them. Very enjoyable song. Paige stands out especially on the bridge, it will help new listeners adjust to his vocals as a main point to Honor Bright.
5. Welcome To New York, Now Get A Job: Probably my favorite song on the album. Really hard hitting and upbeat. It's about missing home and finally coming back to their hometown (which they don't shy from telling you!) Syracuse, NY. The song captures that feeling of coming back from a long trip (like a tour). 'I'd say we missed you, but you'll see it in our hearts' is another great example of writing beyond the basic love concept and showing how much they missed home. A great song to drive to!
6. There's A Lesson To Be Learned Here: Song starts with some distant sounding guitars that combine and drive into the first verse. More great dual vocals going on, with some gang vocals behind it all. This song shows Honor Brights ability to make simple choruses that still stick in your head and sound so impressive.
7. Stay Gold, Denise Hoffman, Stay Gold: Another slow start, probably another good choice for a single. Paige stands out a lot in this song. It's about taking a relationship too far unintentionally. 'This is how I love you becomes goodbye', shows the emotional pull of falling in love when you don't want to. A really gripping song that is easy to get attached to. 'I know I'm not supposed to miss you, but is it OK if I still love you?' really gets to you when listening. Great singing from both DiCosimo and Paige.
8. Hush Symphony: If I had to say a song didn't stand out on this album, it would be this song. Besides the guitars and the chorus, the song doesn't impress me that much. Not saying at all that it's a bad song, just not a front runner to hook new listeners.
9. Don't Tell Momma: As with the previous song, this one isn't particularly impressive either. At this point in a straight listen you might be compelled to feel the album is about to fall off. The song stays relatively mellow compared to the previous songs, gives you a chance to catch your breath.
10. Hold Fast: The album picks back up here with song to take control after feeling like the album was sloping downwards. The upbeat chorus drives the song, but the dual vocals in the verses sound so fluent, and it shows once again how comfortable they sound together, which is truly rare to find in music today.
11. Bednotch and Boomsticks: A big fast song that keeps the flow from the early part of the album. Brings the album to a great close. Upbeat and keeps you in the mood to dance and jump around. Gang vocals fill the song and like much of the album features a band that just sounds comfortable and on the same the page with each other.
12. The Cause in All The Candles: A bonus track on the album. It's acoustic and very uplifting. It's a simple love song with raw power from Paige and DiCosimo. It's almost like a treat for listening to the album. It's sweet and simple but can make your day when your in a bad mood. // 9
Lyrics: The vocals may be weird to some not use to pop-punk. DiCosimo's voice is pretty unique on this album, and mixed with Paige give you two brutal vocal fronts to assault you as you listen. Their fluidity rivals old Taking Back Sunday (Adam and John). They're friends and they've sang together for years and it shows. They're in the pocket together and sing to complement each other instead of trying to show off or steal the show from one other. The rest of the band is listed as backing vocals and do a great job singing gang vocals to keep the album full of energy. // 10
Overall Impression: This isn't your typical pop-punk album. It will get you moving, get you happy and leave you satisfied. Listeners new to the band will see what years of tour and dedication can do for a new and upcoming band. As a first release for a major label, it sounds years more mature than they are. The album was produced by Tom Denny (A Day To Remember) and Jason Lancaster (Go Radio). The album showcases a band primed for a breakout to mainstream success, that isn't afraid to tell you where they're from. At the same time they will maintain your attention and make you want more! // 10