Sound: The Secret Machines dare to go where most bands fear: far from radio accessibility. This is not to say that they are not worthy of attention, far from it. The trio's second offering, Ten Silver Drops, is a fascinating journey of sounds and melodies through and through.
With only three members -- Brandon Curtis on vocals/bass/keyboard, Benjamin Curtis on guitar/backing vocals, and Josh Garza on drums -- the band still manages to make the listener feel like he or she is hearing at least a five-piece. The songs are just that rich with layering. Produced by Alan Moulder of Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine fame, The Secret Machines' latest CD takes you to a different, ethereal place, which is an unmistakable and pleasing Moulder trademark.
With its computer-esque intro and eventual drift into a dreamy-like state, Alone, Jealous, And Stoned goes against the idea of starting off records with a bang. But the song is absolutely appropriate for The Secret Machines, who still are intriguing even when quiet and introspective. The song captures two very significant elements to most of the band's tunes: a spacey, atmospheric quality and mesmerizing guitar effects.
All At Once (It's Not Important) does not accentuate the best that The Secret Machines has to offer, in terms of being musically memorable. However, the song still showcases a unique drum rhythm by Garza throughout, while providing listeners with a glimpse at Brandon Curtis' more passionate vocal side. The melody tends to get a bit repetitive at times, but you can always count on guitarist Benjamin Curtis' phenomenal ability to create interesting guitar textures to make it still worth the ride.
By far, the best song on Ten Silver Drops is Daddy's In The Doldrums, which immediately grabs your attention with its ominously grooving intro. The bass is allowed to intertwine beautifully with the guitar in the musically breathtaking song. After listening to the first few songs on the record, which feel more airy in quality, Daddy's In The Doldrums is an unexpected and pleasing surprise with its pounding bass and bluesy guitar lick. // 9
Lyrics: With a band so incredibly focused on creating effects splashed throughout each song, The Secret Machines have a well-kept weapon in their arsenal -- the lyrics. Most of the tunes on Ten Silver Drops go beyond your run-of-the-mill song of melancholy by truly painting vivid pictures and dialogues into the lyrics.
In All At Once (It's Not Important), Brandon Curtis goes beyond merely expressing sadness at a lost lover. His poetic verses are almost like instruments in themselves. Silver-studded torn and tattered gown; She ruled the room and I just stared; A warning roaring miles above; Hanging over a worn-out night.
Hate Pretending takes on a storytelling quality along with a descriptive nature. There was an orange-lipped girl with her knees crossed; Sitting on the carpeted coal; She was holding onto the money and I was doing what I was told. The scene is created with the same attention to detail that the instruments give in each song, and that is to be commended. // 10
Overall Impression: The Secret Machines have offered up a truly beautiful record for its second release. Although not every song pulls listeners in immediately, each one does offer at least some unique texture that most bands don't even bother adding on to the melody. Guitarist Benjamin Curtis is a power to be reckoned with, and hopefully he will get the recognition he deserves for his playing ability.
For guitarists who appreciate innovative effects, Ten Silver Drops is absolutely worth a listen. And for the average listener, The Secret Machines is accessible enough melodically that the band is likely to gain a following quickly. So sit back and be prepared to enter another world that may just have sounds that your ears have never had the pleasure of hearing before. // 9