On new album, it’s only love
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, January 11, 2013
Striving and longing are Honor by August’s chief musical activities. On the local quartet’s third full album, “Monuments to Progress,” both Michael Pearsall’s yearning voice and Evan Field’s spangly guitar beseech the listener. But it’s slightly disappointing to realize that all these anthems actually seek is a girlfriend.
Pearsall’s lyrics involve a certain amount of lust, notably in “Little Black Dress.” But most of the album’s paeans to passion have an ethereal quality that suits the band’s airy sound. Echoing as if through a mountain pass, the vocals and guitars ascend in a manner that U2 fans may find familiar. Expansive numbers such as “Somebody Real,” pondering “the meaning of it all,” sound as if they might be about the quest for religious certainty or global understanding. But they never quite reach the sky, in part because they’re tethered by such flat rhymes as “real/feel” and “breath/death.”
True love can feel like the biggest thing in the world, of course, and Honor by August sometimes compellingly evokes that sensation. “Already Yours” and “Love Won’t Let You Down” splendidly combine the earthy and the cosmic, treating romance as something written in the stars. As these 10 songs’ only topic, though, love sometimes lets the band down.