Honest Iago - 29 Palms - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Honest Iago - 29 Palms

by Nathan Fidler Rating:3 Release Date:2018-07-27
Honest Iago - 29 Palms
Honest Iago - 29 Palms

Launching their debut in 2009, Honest Iago (yes, that’s some prime Shakespeare, kids) have taken until now to follow up with their sophomore album, 29 Palms. It seems like someone forgot to tell them what year it was as they ploughed on in noughties alt-rock mode for nearly a decade.

All the calling cards of that alternative-rock - or sometimes derided as emo - are there to hear. There is the dual male vocals, combining the “grit” of one singer with the more emotional wail of the “soft” singer, and both sound so badly like they’re reaching for those sounds that it’s grating. This can be best isolated on ‘A Glorious Field For Sawmills’, but is a constant throughout the album.

Another stylistic signpost for the genre we thought we’d left behind is the crunching rhythm guitar overlaid with the melodic picking or riff. This is something which Honest Iago actually wield with some confidence, and rightly so, there are skills in place which might have taken them further 10 or 15 years ago, but not now.

Everything about this album feels clunky and unlistenable. ‘The District Sleeps Alone’, a The Postal Service cover, is mercifully short though, and happens to shift gear after some scaled picking, moving to power chords and a swinging conclusion. Similarly ‘Am I Late For The Uprising?’ deploys a stauncher sense of identity with spaced-out guitar, making for a more compelling sound.

Lyrically, however, they go for the false sense of hurt and derision which makes teenagers swoon, but they lack the deftness of Brand New or the melodic charisma of juggernauts like Patrick Stump, Tom Delonge or Gerard Way. It’s possible that there’s some of the literary-minded smarts in the mix, too, but if so, it’s not easy to pick out - not least because the voices sound trite and tired.

There are many, many places to pick fault with 29 Palms, but the variety in riffs is not one. If there was still a major appetite for this sound it’s possible they’d be a bigger name, but there’s a reason they aren’t: the sound was done to death and this band adds nothing unique to it to make you want to fire up your old Myspace account. Don’t be fooled by the grandiose label of “experimental punk” which they give themselves either.

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