Ben + Vesper
Honors - Sounds Familyre
FILTER Grade: 84%
By Marty Sartini Garner on January 31, 2011
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. Producer Daniel Smith ropes in hand-wrung guitars and padded pianos, balancing the boom of Ben’s baritone against the golden peal of Vesper’s alto. And while they manage to wile-out and get psychedelic, they’re at their best when they’re most vulnerable, as on Communion ballad “Consubstantiation,” whose chapel-high keys rattle the stained glass while Ben tolls out like Scott Walker on Sunday morning. Vanities be damned; this works.