Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Sounds Familyre
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
This shouldn’t work. A band fronted by a husband-and-wife duo who lifted their name from a tree trunk and whose songs casually mention phone calls, sports cars and overdraft protection sounds far too…precious. But Ben and Vesper Stamper are no cutesy twee-sters. No, Honors is a major set of big-time bedroom pop, grand enough to matter and particular enough to find meaning in the quotidian: a shirt is lost, a father accidentally erases his son’s VHS.
Ben and Vesper Stamper are the ideal couple, really. Their voices are the perfect match for each other, they've created a career together playing music, and on Honors, their second full-length album, they've surrounded themselves with a lovable gang of friends, including old pal Sufjan Stevens. The effect is that this whole record seems fuller and, while still domestic, it feels like Ben + Vesper have moved out of the bedroom and into the kitchen.
Close couples often develop their own shared language, a matrix of references and associations that hold unique meaning for the pair. A husband and wife who record and perform music together would seem like strong candidates for being so intuitively intertwined. It'd certainly go a long ways towards explaining the strange folk-pop made by Ben + Vesper.
On their second full-length, New Jersey husband-and-wife duo Ben and Vesper Stamper perform like confident indie-rock vets. Their understated guitar- and keys-driven songs invite discovery and reveal intricacies upon each listen. Ben's baritone sometimes recalls David Byrne or Stephin Merritt, and there are echoes of those artists' wry wit and pop smarts throughout Honors.
The couple that plays together, stays together. Ben and Vesper Stamper, a husband-and-wife duo with an affinity for offbeat folk music, get a little help from their friends on this sophomore album, which features cameos by Sufjan Stevens, two members of Holler, Wild Rose!, and other indie heavyweights. Yet despite the lengthy guest list, HONORS is basically a two-person affair.
On their latest Sounds Familyre release Honors, husband-and-wife duo Ben + Vesper make more incontrovertibly pleasant folk pop. It’s their fourth album in four years, but doesn’t sound like a rush job; the songs are tightly structured, and the clear production shows off simplicity at its best. Ben and Vesper’s respective voices are the focal point; his rich baritone is reminiscent of the National’s Matt Berninger, and her alto easily adapts from the playful “Holly Home?” to the smooth “Understruggle; Yay, Win.” Their quotidian-yet-quirky lyrics are also showcased by the sparse arrangements.