Album Review: 'Secret Machines,' The Secret Machines
Is it too early to wax nostalgic for the music of the mid-2000s? Now that we're firmly in the late oughts, tunes from just a few years ago are re-emerging into the zeitgeist. The trailers for Guy Ritchie's "RocknRolla" used 2005 track "Rock & Roll Queen" by The Subways, and NBC reached a little further back, placing Kasabian's 2004 number "Club Foot" in promos for Christian Slater vehicle "My Own Worst Enemy."
So it feels right that a new Secret Machines record would be released this week. In 2004, the Dallas band's "Nowhere Again," off their excellent debut "Now Here is Nowhere," was similarly utilized in advertising (which, whether you like it or not, is more viable in breaking artists than radio airplay these days - just ask Feist, Chairlift or anyone else lucky enough to be in an iPod commercial), in their case for the short-lived series "Jack & Bobby." Follow-up record "Ten Silver Drops" was also well-received but didn't make much of an impact culturally.
"Secret Machines," the first album without original guitarist and brother to lead singer Brandon Curtis, Benjamin Curtis (who left to focus on his band School of Seven Bells), doesn't contain a whole lot that would easily work on a televised 30-second spot. Not a bad thing, really, and the album starts off promisingly with the zippy "Atomic Heels." The second track, "Last Believer, Drop Dread," has a great first two-thirds, but fizzles out towards the end and feels 90 seconds too long. "Now You're Gone" has the same problem, but in reverse, being weighed down by an extraneous 90-second intro. The indulgences continue en masse in songs like "Have I Run Out" and the 11-minute wannabe epic "The Fire is Waiting," which closes out the disc. These psychedelic tendencies were present in earlier Secret Machines releases, but here tend to verge towards wankery (perhaps a result of now being on their own label, the eponymous TSM Recordings). But still, it's executed well throughout, and there are plenty of people who are looking for some proper psychedelic wankery. Just don't expect it to be promoting too many CW teen dramas.