Honor By August – Four Sides EP
Honor by August’s been jamming away for some eight years now, and their latest album, Four Sides, offers four tracks that didn’t have an enormous amount of variety musically, but covered some ground with subject and content. Tried and true, they start things off with the slightly quicker and uplifting Mad Mission. The song didn’t feel fantastically original in content, it discussed the uncertainty of life and the many things that lay outside of our own control. Musically it followed a similar track, feeling both catchy and somewhat uninspiring. Everything about the guitar and drum lines in the song felt average, and yet it was easy and comfortable to listen to. Perhaps that illustrates that there is a formula that can be followed to create an average rock song that sounds like everything you hear on the radio?
I guess that is a pretty harsh way to start off this review. I will be equally blunt the in the opposite direction, I did enjoy listening to Four Sides, but I felt that it didn’t bring anything new or particularly outstanding to the genre. Of course, you don’t have to do anything original or exceptional to make music that is enjoyable. The Way You Move, the second track also felt somewhat plain, but pleasant. I enjoyed the slow and nostalgic mood that the song created, but lines like “you still move me like a hurricane… you still move me like a runaway train. It still hurts a little bit, but I still love the pain” fell a little flat. The song is pretty enough as an ode to old love and despite lyrics that felt a little over-the-top, the song was enjoyable.
The third track, Scarecrow, actually did scare me a bit when he started off saying he was going to be watching over, even outside the window, of some special someone. Doesn’t matter whether you are faithfully watching over someone or stalking and watching over someone, it was a little creepy. I see what they were going for with the song, it is about standing by someone’s side and supporting them through thick and thin, but perhaps giving that person some space, even if it’s just in song, is a good thing. The alternative is that it is God or Jesus or something watching, and well, if that’s your cup of tea and that is what the song is about I will leave that alone.
Their final song, Hey Mamma, again didn’t really strike me. It was pleasant, and I enjoyed the melodic guitar solo that starts up about a third of the way through the track. Perhaps I am a stickler for artists trying to be more original and rely less heavily on common imagery. The last track starts saying that he is going to leave the door unlocked, the porch light on and wait for Mamma to come on back. While common imagery can make songs and experiences relatable to a large audience, they can also make songs redundant and to listeners who have heard the same images used multiple times it can have one of two effects: the listener might revel in the fact that the content is familiar and they understand it, or, like myself, they might cringe and wonder why more time wasn’t put into trying to find a different way to say it. In the end it is unnecessary to discuss whether or not using common metaphors in a song is a good or bad idea, it comes down to personal preference.
I know that I am being quite critical of Honor by August’s latest album, but I do it in an attempt to be fair. While I often felt somewhat uninspired by the lyrical content and spent the whole time listening through trying to place what songs each one of the tracks felt like it resembled, perhaps that is part of the charm of this short album. It felt so familiar, I almost felt like I had heard it before and that familiarity was enjoyable in its own regard. The album was far on the side of mellow, despite Mad Mission being a little quicker pace, the last three tracks slow down considerably. There was no point during the four songs when I felt like I had had enough, but there were also many times where I felt like I could comfortably stop paying attention. What can I say? The album was alright. It was good and if you like stuff like Lifehouse (a very common comparison to which they are often made it seems) than I expect that Four Sides will fit in quite nicely on your playlist.
by Matt Kaiser