Fact: "This City's Summer" by the Honorary Title was the best song of 2007, and one of the most nostalgia-instigating melodies‚?¶ever. Bold? Yes. But there's something about it that wreaks havoc on the brain's neuronal synapses, triggering memories anywhere from growing up in your parent's house, basking outside in sunny summer days all the way through exploring your college dormitory for the very first time. While the melody carries the weight, the subtle lyrics flash haphazardly like a spotlight on the storyboard's images: "When swimming in serotonin / Even the city's summer smells like perfume / So rub your wrists together, take a swig / And you'll feel better once you close your eyes / Pretend to sleep for hours and hours."
Oddly enough, after writing the above paragraph and deciding to investigate the song a bit more, it appears that my reaction was strikingly similar to its author's (albeit that mine was far less emo), as explained by frontman Jarrod Gorbel: "The lyrics were a bunch of different kind of lyrics put together. I spent a lot of time on them. Especially that 'na na na' part, each 'na' was really‚?¶ I just realized how that sounded. Lyrically, it took years to evolve that 'na.' When I was coming up with the second 'na', followed by a third and fourth, I would cry. You know? Like, memories would just come back. By the fifth 'na,' I was on the floor. I couldn't deal with life. What I had become and what I had gone through. I was just like‚?¶no...um...really that was the melody I liked. But the verses span from memories of being a child to two summers ago, on a rooftop of somebody's building at a party on the fourth of July, and being on drugs. Because you're not going to be on the rooftop of a building on the fourth of July without being on drugs. [laughing]."
Three hundred and twenty words into the review, and I've only touched on one song. Sadly, the rest of the album is far less noteworthy, weighted down by overdramatic ballads and uninteresting melodies. The band's developing style of emo-folk works about half the time, as Gorbel's voice often sounds much like a less subtle take on the National frontman, Matt Berninger's, but without the lyrical layering and cultural interpolations.
Bland acoustic numbers like "Far More" and "Even If," along with the mercilessly sluggish "Wait Until I'm Gone" and "Only One Week" do major damage to the album's full-play potential, and interrupt the flow of the more exceptional tracks. Still, there are a few other offerings that keep the record above mediocrity, the most notable of which is the angular "Untouched and Intact," with a blatantly catchy, almost falsetto chorus and one of the more lively tempos on the LP. "Stuck at Sea" also shines, though with more repetition and a more linear but nonetheless effective storyline.
While there are some truly great songs on Scream & Light up the Sky -- a line plucked from the album's best song, "This City's Summer" -- there are almost as many duds to keep this from the level of excellence it intermittently flirts with.