Throughout our lives, we are thrown through trials and tribulations that are designed to test our character. We deal with these situations in unique ways, regardless of the outcome but they ultimately shape us into the beings that we’re meant to be. Sometimes, the situations can be so unbearable that there is a point of indecision, and we’re forced to question our existence. This is especially true, when dealing with relationships and especially those that have been long term. Post-hardcore music has always done an excellent job of conveying the emotions needed to properly create the atmosphere needed to connect with it. It is because of this reason that this genre, and indeed most “core” genres often explore difficult subjects such as these. Secret Eyes, while new to the scene in many ways, are anything but amateurs when it comes to their craft. Their latest album (and InVogue Records debut), Holding On, takes emotion to new heights and creates a real, nostalgic adventure that you won’t soon forget.
Seth Cooper‘s signature, high-pitched vocal style is reminiscent of early Saosin and explodes with the emotional intensity found in bands like Dashboard Confessional. The lead single and opening track, “Buried Like Diamonds,” explores a more pop-driven, bouncy sound than their previous material and really opens them up to a new side of their fan base. An echoed guitar melody created by Cooper and lead guitarist Eric Lewis, followed by heavy drum beats (which are provided by Patrick Gallagher) underlies and perfectly compliments the breathy, intense and almost indie vibe of the verses. When we get to the chorus, Gallagher really begins to shine and Cooper’s vocals soar to new heights.
“Better Off” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, for many reasons. With it’s pop-punk tendencies, heavy alternative rock guitar riffs and catchy, near battle-like cry of “If we go down, we go down together” it’s sure to become a fan favorite. This track gives a lot of room for crowd participation and also features one of my favorite drum builds on the entire album in the bridge. The band decided to do a series of single releases, leading up to the album and it surprised me quite a bit when this track wasn’t one of them. There are so many things that would make this track, among others that didn’t make the cut, a huge success.
On a more melancholic note, we find “Talking Underwater,” which you can find the video for below. Featuring the acting talents of Bri “Hexx” Butler and Andrew Sage Rouleau, the visuals are just as powerful as the track itself. Almost entirely acoustic, this track is probably the saddest, yet most gripping tracks on the entire album. Butler and Rouleau play the part of a couple who are slowly drifting away, with each level perfectly portrayed until the end. The piano playing on this track, coupled with the orchestral arrangement and choral-like ending make this one of my favorite moments on the album. It sounds like it could be a score for a movie but yet captures the emotion, and each moment, more perfectly than one could imagine. Add to that the beautiful interlude that follows, “Heart,” and you’ve got a recipe designed to make even the toughest of individuals shed a tear or two. A bold approach, and a wonderful execution keep me coming back to this one over and over, despite how hard it is to listen to.
One of the most underrated singles, thus far, has been “Light the Fire.” Much like “Home,” this track features a much more nostalgic approach to their sound. What makes it stand out, though, is that it does an amazing job of creating a climactic moment, where each section builds more onto the last. Even more impressive is that there are small builds and breaks that, to a normal ear, would be almost unnoticeable but they’ve found a way to emphasize them and make the listener turn their heads and nod in approval.
Finally, I’d like to talk about the last two tracks on the album, “The Biggest Letdown” and “Never Let Me Go.” I choose to talk about these tracks, cohesively, rather than individually because they flow so well into one another. While the former is another of the more melancholic moments on the album, it builds into something far greater. While the verses explore a more vulnerable side of Cooper’s vocals, accompanied by both acoustic guitar and piano, there is a subtle bass line that creates a heavier atmosphere to the track. Add to that, the perfectly executed, echoed drum beats that overpower the chorus. Cooper’s vocals have this really subtle break to them at the end, that adds to the emotion. “Never Let Me Go,” comes in with an eerie electronic/orchestral melody as if the previous track never ended. The track continues to build into a full-band experience and adds a new dimension, until you realize that it’s an entirely different track. While the album, itself, has a great flow in its own right, nothing does so better than these two tracks. It creates a beautiful dichotomy to the end of the album that just sets it off in a way that’s near-indescribable with words.
I found myself in love with Comatose, the band’s debut album so when Gallagher told me that this album far surpassed it? I found it a bit hard to believe. I write this review in the hopes that you will heed my words in saying he was 1000% right. Not only did they find a way to capture the beautiful, atmospheric sound that they created on their debut, they blew it out of the water. Each musician shows their strengths in ways that I never thought capable and they also show that they’re tighter as a band than ever. Moreover, the production on this album is top notch and shows that Grant McFarland and Carson Slovak (Think Loud Studios) really take the time to bring out the best in the artists they work with. This is no surprise given that they’ve produced the likes of August Burns Red, From Ashes to New, etc but their attention to detail is always astounding to me. Holding On is my first true contender for album of the year and sits among my favorite albums in the genre. You don’t have to take my word for it, though, Holding On is out via InVogue Records now and can be bought/streamed via the links below! While you’re at it, check out the music videos for “Talking Underwater,” “Buried Like Diamonds” and “Never Gave a Damn,” which I’ve graciously embedded below as well.
Secret Eyes are:
Seth Cooper – Vocals/Guitar
Eric Lewis – Lead Guitar
Brian Caine – Bass/Vocals
Patrick Gallagher – Drums