Band: Secret & Whisper
Title: Teenage Fantasy
Released: April 6th 2010
Label: Tooth & Nail
Producer: Jeff Schneeweis
Sounds like: Saosin, a poppier Circa Survive
‘XOXOXO’ was the first song I heard by Secret and Whisper and it was terrible. In a very funny way. It wasn’t that the music was particularly bad, but the level of auto-tune applied to the vocals was laughable. It was as though the singer had swallowed a keyboard and was running his fingers along his ribs to emit pitch-perfect notes. Even funnier than the studio version is the live performance of that song [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwlhDO02iIs] – it gets embarrassing to watch.
When I saw they had a new album I had to have a listen for comedy value. I have to admit: I’m pleasantly surprised. The blatant studio trickery on the vocals is no longer present and the songs have melody and clear direction. The band sound sufficiently similar to Cove-era Saosin to inspire interest in their music, without coming across as a copy cat band. It sounds a little bit like Saosin taking a scenic drive across countryside in a knackered car – they play a similar style of music, but with some gritty electronic effects and more of an atmospheric landscape.
It’s great to see the band improving, but the album isn’t without its problems. Their debut album showed that they lacked integrity enough to alter the vocal notes to make them sound better than could be performed and like the boy who cried wolf, I’m not sure I believe they didn’t do it this time as well. Whenever I hear the singer hitting some impressive notes, I’m less taken in by it because it doesn’t feel honest. The problem with the vocals however, stretches further than this pedantic point. Whether or not the constant hitting of high notes is aided by trickery, they’re anathema to the music. The vocalist spends so much time singing at the top of his range that it becomes stale very quickly and by the fifth song you already know what each chorus is going to sound like.
If you mixed a couple of Secret and Whisper tracks into a playlist, you’d be quite taken by them I’m sure, but a whole album’s worth of the same theme becomes tiresome. That said, Secret and Whisper certainly proved me wrong with Teenage Fantasy: I came to add fuel to the fire of dissent, but I’ve come away with a decent set of songs to enjoy instead. We won’t know if they can go one better with album number three as they’ve subsequently split up (this is becoming a familiar last line!)