The Honored Guests
Into Nostalgia EP
As The Honored Guests shift focus toward the release of Please Try Again, their first full-length in four long years (and their second overall, if one were to count the eight-song, off-the-radar iawokeinacityasleep from 2004 as an EP), they’ve thrown a bone to the impatient by issuing their Into Nostalgia EP as an hors d’oeuvre to the main course. It was temporarily a free download to boot.
Despite the extended bout of silence, those smitten with the Chapel Hill band’s brooding, ’70s-style guitar rock on the outstanding Tastes Change (2006) (synesthetes might have heard an autumnal album of warm, subdued oranges, browns, grays, and reds; most listeners will have heard an adventurous Coldplay with bite) will find much that’s familiar here, even though these tracks originated as a means for frontman Russell Baggett to mitigate the protracted recording process of Please Try Again. The opener “Hey Jude Law,” a fretful, tangled contemplation of (melo)drama and façades, could easily have appeared on Tastes Change without seeming out of place.
There is, however, less emphasis on straightforward rock and, as the EP’s title suggests, a greater tendency to drift into the dreamlike. “Chasing Some Wild Sheep Chasing the Wasp Dream” — as if, yet again, its title alone weren’t indicative — is layered in a way that puts drums at the forefront, followed by a keyboard refrain, then vocals (themselves divided into lead and echo), and finally guitar arcs. The song hits the ears like some sort of reverse telescopic construction. The lullaby ballad “I Want You to See Through Me” and the one-minute piano interlude “Boy,” which reprises the keyboard refrain of “Chasing Some Wild Sheep,” are there should a nudge into sleep, perchance to dream, be necessary. Rounding off the EP is the sulking, exquisitely wistful “Paper Cuts” (“looking for a fight / cause unknown / looking for my girl / to drive me home / [… ] funny how the world / sized me up”).
In the middle of all this is “Jimmy’s a Cop Now,” an odd fit. Lyrically, it’s less impressionistic than the Guests’ usual style. It’s also more lively and jaunty than its counterparts on the EP. And while the content of the song (recollections of an old friend suddenly turned tool) is in good company with the rest, had it been placed at the end or omitted altogether, the mood of Into Nostalgia would have remained intact as a seamless Proustian sequence.
That minor aberration aside, this EP shows that the Guests, whether writing solo or in unison, haven’t lost any of their magic during the long wait for the successor to Tastes Change. There are already rumblings that Please Try Again is going be poppier and more orthodox than the last full-length; Into Nostalgia ought to bridge that gap nicely.
The Honored Guests: www.thehonoredguests.com