PREMIERE | DoublePlusGood, "Honest Man"
DoublePlusGood are one of the best kept open secrets of the Portland, Oregon pop scene. Lead by art director, curator and educator Erik Carlson of the gallery/imprint SoHiTek and local PNW staple; DoublePlusGood, taking their name from the Oceania language of Newspeak found in George Orwell's 1984, announce their ambitious new album Who's Your Man with the glorious debut of their mightiest single to date — "Honest Man". Seamlessly blending bold and emotive synths with an elaborate production that hearkens to the Golden Era of pop; Carlson along with the band of Shawn Michael Thornhill, Cole Johnston and Jacob Marsh juxtapose LGBTQ culture with the repressive backdrop of 1950s styles that pits a loveless heterosexual romance with a love that dare not speak its name.
DoublePlusGood's "Honest Man" stands as one of the greatest and most heartbreaking songs of 2019. It recalls the elaborate Roy Orbison-era teardrop pop splendor with the genius of the Bryan Ferry/Brian Eno and Brett Anderson/Bernard Butler economies of unbound synergy. Utilizing the template of the closeted era of mid-twentieth century nuclear family puritanism; "Honest Man" is presented as a gorgeous and tragic melodrama of a gay man caught in a bad hetero romance who does anything and everything possible to make things work (while the world crashes down all around them, despite all best efforts and intentions to mask true desires and identity). The heartbreaking and painstaking attempts of the song's protagonist to adopt and conform to a cis het normative lifestyle plays out like a glamorous breakdown of our tortured antihero baring their soul in settings of exquisite grandeur, kneeling humbly on their knees at the foot of a despondent ice queen's throne (who has known the score all along). "Honest Man" is a heart ripping epic that is executed as something fit for the silver screen, delivered with the Vaseline-smudged lens of a vintage Technicolor blockbuster deserving to be experienced in Cinemascope. "Honest Man" sways and croons like a subversive cult controversial film from the 1950s that most certainly would have been banned during its era, or banished to art houses, reminiscent of all the ensuing aesthetic new waves that would further explore these complicated natures of human relations, connections and the like. Carlson and company have created a masterpiece that strikes with a level of glam, charm, heartache and a level of destitution and heavy gravity that will leave you in tears — whilst wanting more.
Erik Carlson of DoublePlusGood shared some exclusive reflections on the inspirations, life events, emotions and more that contributed to the song "Honest Man" with insights on the making of the album Who's Your Man:
The process of writing “Honest Man” was very fluid. I was whistling the tune and recorded it to my phone while doing errands and went home and recorded the demo the next morning. I had written the chorus and was kinda stuck on that old phrase they're making an honest man out of me referring to when a man or woman gets married and kinda settles down their more wild impulses. I kinda thought that it would be interesting to use that term in a more literal sense and write from the perspective of a man who was actually lying about how he’s changed for somebody. The first verse sounds sweet and earnest, and the second verse has the reveal that nothing has actually changed. In the context of the record, Who’s Your Man, it worked well as a narrative about a man lying about his sexual orientation and chose a marriage with a woman rather than admit to himself his true nature. Overall, the song to me is about how we often look to relationships with other people as a means to mask conflict within ourselves, rather than resolving the root of the issue.
The writing itself was something new, as this was the first character I had created for a song, and it was not autobiographical at all. I really liked the opening like, honey I quit the dope, and I joined the choir, I wanted to be economic with words but give as much of a backstory as I could in a short amount of time. I really liked the attempt at a bit of a narrative in a song that wasn’t really mine, and it has made the song fun during live performances as I’m able to sing in more of a character rather than myself.