Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Honorable Mention: The Secret History, The World That Never Was

read the full article at spectrum culture.

go now.

Many critics couldn't even be bothered to review The World That Never Was. Their loss, as the Secret History's debut LP is an altogether brilliant piece of indie pop that combines intelligent lyricism with flawless musicianship. Refining both the style and narrative structure of the Desolation Town EP - also mostly ignored - the band produced a complex and mature record that deserved far more recognition that it received.

World's songs sound immediately familiar but never derivative, inviting but never too polished; its shimmering arrangements hint at influences ranging from '50s girl groups and '60s folk rock to glam rock and '80s British indie. The album frequently sounds buoyant and hopeful, as seen in the intricate harmonies of "Our Lady of Stalingrad" and in Lisa Ronson's pitch-perfect vocals on "Love Theme." Other songs are understated in the sense of tragedy they evoke; songs of mourning like "God Save the Runaways" and "Sex with Ghosts" move at a tempo best suited for a funeral. EP holdover "Our Lady of Palermo" is similar in both style and substance, the loneliness of its "pilgrimage to where God's never been" accented by Ronson's carefully-paced vocals, a martial drumbeat and rising strings.

Dubbed a "requiem for young monsters," World's subject matter is almost always dark, primarily consisting of runaways, travelers, transients, musicians, monsters and dead horror film icons usually dealing with everyday sad shit. Themes of distance and mortality emerge in a vast geography of ghettos, grottoes, European landmarks and all points in between, with Michael Grace, Jr. and Darren Amadio's lyrics - precise lines like, "They buried her there in the garden/ Behind the refinery" - contrasting with Ronson's bright vocals while reinforcing the album's desolate landscapes. It's fitting that one of the album's characters walks "on the shadowy side of the street." So for now The World That Never Was remains an undiscovered masterpiece, and while numerous worthy albums went under the radar this year, it'd be difficult to find one better than this debut from the Secret History

No comments: