Album: Everything That Got Us Here
Lets talk for a moment about change—a necessary process artists need to undergo from release to release in order to escape monotony. Diehard fanboys and girls aside, most of a band’s fan base will undoubtedly grow tired of the same sound regurgitated over and over again for the course of two, three or four albums—you get the picture, right? This brings us to California’s post-hardcore powerhouse Secrets and their third studio album, Everything That Got Us Here. Fragile Figures, the band’s sophomore album, saw them moving in a good direction, gathering momentum by combining alt-rock and post-hardcore elements with splashes of heaviness. This momentum had the underground music community abuzz after he announcement of their third and most recent album—expecting continued growth that would skyrocket them from “solid” to “stellar.”
What we got, however, was far from what we expected. Secrets instead opted to regress, borrowing heavily from many of post-hardcore’s biggest names in an attempt to create something catchy, fun, poppy and palatable. Instead, they released an abhorrence—a collection of cringeworthy choruses and practically-plagiarized one-liners connected by bland stretches of boring instrumentation. What could have been one of 2015’s biggest sleeper was…well, in many ways, just that: an album that has the listener snoozing before it even truly starts.
I can already hear it: “Connor, you only dislike this album because it barely has any heaviness to it! All you review is deathcore anyways.” While the lack of “punch” is indeed my biggest bone to pick with this release, that isn’t to be mistaken for disappointment at a lack of “brootality.” Contrary to popular belief, bands can indeed shy away from heavier elements and retain an edge that cuts scars into the listener’s memory. Secrets instead opted not to—as their effort to create what might be a more “marketable” album sees them losing any and all vivacity their previous releases had. Whether it’s the bizarre and “artsy” introduction that falls flat on its face, or tracks like “Rise Up” and “Half Alive” that feels like someone put Sleeping with Sirens and A Skylit Drive in a blender and watered down the final product, the material on Everything That Got Us Here is, at best, as tasteless and bland as water. “Rise Up” starts earnestly enough, trying hard to get its hooks into the listener, but instead coming across as repetitive and lackluster—boring the listener before it even concludes. Simplistic, overproduced drums crash and roar beneath dueling guitars that predictably flow from flashy, “pretty” leads to half-hearted chugs in an attempt to “break down” whatever it is Secrets built up in the first place. “The Man That Never Was” sees Secrets trying to turn up the intensity—hammering away at the listener with quick drumming and frantic strumming. Moments like these—where Secrets try to hang on to the heaviness that their previous releases used tastefully and tactically—are refreshing, simply because they feel too sloppy and out of place to be monochromatic copy-pasted segments from songs the listener has heard over and over again already. If anything, Secrets’ sloppy chugfests are kind of like waking up from a nightmare because of an earthquake toppling your house—there’s no good, just varying shades of bad.
Musically, Secrets leave more than a little to be desired—as Everything That Got Us Here is basically a 40-minute build up that never reaches a climax. Not to be outdone, however, Secrets’ vocal and lyrical elements keep the listener in want for the duration of the album. With a smooth, boyish voice that—realistically—could be the frontman of any post-whatever band, Secrets’ frontman croons line after line about heartbreak, anxiety and other typical fare to little success. Even during anthems rebelling out against an ex-lover (something just about any listener can relate to in one way or another), Secrets’ vocalist still fails to engage the listener at all; be it his colorless, tame singing or generic, unremarkable screams. Some tracks, such as the ending to “The Man That Never Was,” are almost catchy, giving the listener hope—hope that is quickly squashed beneath the weight of the band’s next letdown.
Secrets’ Everything That Got Us Here sounds kind of like a Weird-Al Yankovich cover of post-hardcore as a genre. Imagine a band trying desperately to make a series of poignant and “memorable” tracks that speak to the young listeners while still appealing to veterans of the genre who might be willing to shell out some bucks on a hard copy—rife with “catchy” choruses, “clever” one-liners and cookie cutter heavy parts. The only problem? The only “memorable” moments found on the entire album are ones the listener is sure to remember so they don’t revisit them. The rest of the release remains a carbon copy of songs done years ago dotted with chuggy, haphazard breakdowns that illicit only one response: a resounding, almost audible cringe. While there are rare moments of tolerable, talented instrumentation and lyricism, they are buried beneath metric tons of monotonous, contrived crud. With the resounding failure that is Everything That Got Us Here, the only Secret is which trash can in the California area“here” refers to.
For Fans Of: Sleeping With Sirens, Alesana, Heartist, A Skylit Drive
By: Connor Welsh