Secret & Whisper – [Album]

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Anyone that remembers when Jared Leto first broke onto the mainstream music radar in 2002 with 30 Seconds To Mars likely remembers the initial mixed reception the band received. Presumably, the public's undecided impression was the result of a couple of things; first, the public wasn't (and still isn't, really) accustomed to actors making a valid  attempt at career jumping from one art form to another and, second, they were unused to hearing anything other than mawkish, novel tones dribble from those starlets that did take a shot. While none of the members of Secret & Whisper have a “second job” in Hollywood, they may run into the same problem 30STM did, if only because there's a certain disarming similarity in the sounds produced by both bands. Those similarities begin the moment Secret & Whisper singer Charles Furney lets loose in the opening of “Youth Cats” – the anthem that opens Teenage Fantasy. Like Leto, Furney is possessed of a voice that just oozes catharsis as well as frustration and resentment; and when he begins to moan at the song's end, you feel it. Your knees begin to get a bit weak just in time for the singer and guitarists David Ecker and Jason Ciolli shatter senses with the blessed cacophony that opens “Warrior (Arrowwood).”

That's the way the duration of Teenage Fantasy gets played out. It is a constant contrast of beauty, anger, resentment, fury and melodicism that is intoxicating and very easy to want to believe in.

As the record progresses too, it gets more cathartic – as if, after unloading a fraction of all their insecurities and frustrations on listeners, the band feels compelled to make amends for what they've done – and while the band doesn't exactly lighten up, the torment of that drive to get what's in the band out even if it hurts them is omni-present in songs like “Famous For A Century,” “Star Blankets” and “Blush.” The gap between the two sides of the band's emotional dichotomy widens with each successive track too and the band seems to grow more furious and almost confused. It's as if Secret & Whisper are having difficulty reconciling who they are versus what they want to be: saviors intent on delivering their audience, prophets, a bunch of fucked up kids or some fucked up cross-breed of all three. Regardless, the process that the band goes through to find out is a captivating one.

As “Whale Bones” and “Silver Mountain” rest, exhausted at the end of the record, nothing has really been resolved for Secret & Whisper as they seem to simply spiral through the same motions and sound more desperate (check the line that opens “Silver Mountain”: “The baron took my life away from me/and I am just a normal man”) to find the meaning of it all before 'it all' comes undone. They don't find it though, and in the unlisted track, “Upset Seventeen,” all that remains is Furney, alone with an acoustic guitar and a four-track recorder, morose and broken. It's a sad end (and sort of similar to 30 Seconds To Mars, again), but will have listeners reaching for the repeat button on their stereos because they know those feelings – they've felt them before too – and it's reassuring to know that they're not the only ones.



Teenage Fantasy
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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