Artist: Secret Keeper
Album: Losing Sleep– EP
Not too long ago, I found out one of my closest friends in elementary school died. We hadn’t spoken or been close in years–but after stopping by his Facebook page to wish him a cursory “happy birthday,” I was overwhelmed with grief-stricken notes concerning his passing nearly two years ago. While it was the first time since high school I’d even attempted to contact him, I still felt rocked to my core–like an integral part of my core had been shaken loose. Listening to Secret Keeper’s Losing Sleep is a similar experience. Losing Sleep is a lucid, harrowing experience, combining aggression, emotion and energy in a stunning explosion of immersive musicianship and brilliant lyricism that hits the listener like a car crash. Somewhere between Secret Keeper’s ability to brutalize the listener with deep, dissonant chugs and relate to them with peerless poetry, the band’s most recent EP is home an intangible gem that makes it something the listener just won’t be able to keep secret.
Losing Sleep can be best described as a complete night’s sleep. Roaming from calm, deep and relaxing moments to twisting, turning and writhing moments of emotional agony and musical aggression, Secret Keeper provide a complete listening experience that spans the entire spectrum of human emotion while making it look easy. They do this thanks to their comprehensive and majestic musical canvas—a floral, vivacious soundscape that is both lush and packed with life, yet barren, desolate and hopeless. At its core—the firmly-packed soil that serves as Secret Keeper’s firmament—rests percussionists Dylan Honkonen (although “rests” might be a misleading term). Honkonen provides a steady heartbeat that keeps time as fervently as a clock, yet beats like the hooves of one hundred horses. “Everything Falls Apart” sees Honkonen at his heartiest, beating away with a thick, booming kick drum and a steady, catchy pattern to serve as brilliant background for the song’s floral guitar parts, as well as their more aggressive, angsty counterparts. Guitarists Brian Brown and Thomas Filbert work together to cover Honkonen’s heart percussion in a vast, detailed quilt of fun-and-furious fretwork. “Left Alone” serves as a brilliant example of the latter—contrasting jagged riffs against jarring breakdowns to bewilder the listener. Meanwhile, “Losing Sleep” or the ethereal “I Heard That You Died” serve as a stellar source of calm and composure, painting delicate chords and harmonies with the same attention to detail that one would expect of Van Gogh or Chagall.
All of Losing Sleep’s enormous, fascinating instrumentation serves a simple yet crucial purpose—a vector for vocalist Kyle Burrier’s brutalizing anger and overwhelming sorrow. On one hand, Burrier is scalding, brutalizing the listener with catchy, harsh shouts like the ones heard highlighting the chorus to the immensely contagious “Left Alone.” This side of Burrier serves as the crown of thorns to Secret Keeper’s firm rule over the speedy and aggressive. Burrier accompanies Honkonen’s hurried drumming and the tag team of Brown and Filbert as they frantically strum and chug away—practically exuding pure energy directly into the listener’s head. Here, Burrier is the voice of desperation—just as his worn out shouts and yells on throughout the climax of “Losing Sleep” pull and pluck violently at the listener’s heartstrings, quickening their pulse and causing their heart to roar in their ears with the same stressed ferocity as Burrier’s forced shouts and shrill screams.
Just as Burrier’s frantic shouts and Secret Keeper’s speedy candor build up into a veritable maelstrom, the storm breaks—winds shift and rain falls, cooling the flame-ridden fury that Losing Sleep had so easily acquired. When Burrier isn’t bustling and brutalizing the listener, he is brooding—dark, dismal and emotionally complex—in the most beautiful and heart-touching way emotional hardcore has seen in years. All of Burrier’s emotion—the back and forth between the intense energy of “Left Alone” and the catchy, melancholy climax of “Everything Falls Apart”—climaxes with Losing Sleep’s closing track, “I Heard That You Died.” Simply put, I don’t think 2014 had—nor will 2015 have—a more beautiful and emotionally compromising track than “I Heard That You Died.” Instrumentally minimal, this song is a tell-all; a confessional. It is a light shining, illuminating the darkest parts of his mind and the deepest fathoms of his heart. Rarely is there a song that can be related to this easily, deeply or purely. “I Heard That You Died” is the climax to a stunningly beautiful album, plain and simple.
Even though we weren’t close anymore, and likely never would be again, I still find myself thinking about my lost friend from time to time. There’s still the inkling of an emptiness—a nook left unfilled—somewhere in my core; an intangible hollow that begs to be filled. Losing Sleep is the same way; whether it’s the wall-busting energy or the heart-tearing emotion, something magical exists in the confines of Secret Keeper’s dynamic that keeps the listener hooked, playing it on repeat and hoping for closure.
For Fans Of: La Dispute, Defeater, HRBRS, Pianos Become the Teeth
By: Connor Welsh