Sound — 9
Cherry picking the best that post-rock has to offer and giving it a hardcore twist that never seemed forced, Secondsmile burst onto the Sussex scene with their impressive debut EP, reminiscent of an early Minus The Bear and ATDI. Such a comparison, while lazy, is perhaps not unfounded as guitarist Thomas makes good use of a very unusual two hand tapping technique, inspired by MTB's Dave Knudson, songs such as the intro to the racily titled 'Easy Going Girls Are Always One F--k Away' set Secondsmile apart from many of the other bands in this genre. Add in a clever use of dynamics that sees a hearty scream to make any hardcore fan boy proud to a more mellow vocation and Secondsmile are onto a winner with this one. The aforementioned 'post-rock' element makes itself known throughout this EP with tracks such as 'Our Great And Secret Show' veering off into tightly scribed instrumentation that never seems pretentious or self-indulgent, such clean passages leading back into the distorted tap heavy chorus's prove to be a winning formula, aswell as being a very marked deviation from the established rules of screamo and post-rock. I was frequently impressed with the transitions within each song, with the band at their best when breeding two supposedly incompatible genres into fluid intros and ambient outtros. However, some tracks appear to run out of ideas, the 'easygoing girls' song is a case in point here, a fantastically original intro soon evaporates as Secondsmile resort to an awkward breakdown at the end that is both unnecessary and cringeworthy, not only this but being only 4 tracks in length means such sloppy structure becomes a lot more apparent. On the other hand for a first release and being an EP at that, the listener can readily forgive moments like these and never does it detract from the CD as a whole.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically Secondsmile seem fond of the 'angst' approach to their writing, and this is something that is again very hit and miss. Having said this lines such as 'And we are broken silhouettes dancing on glass' aswell as the heartfelt 'You fix this butterflies wings' go hand in hand with the dynamics I mentioned earlier and add to the experience of the tracks and their 'build up moments'. The themes of space and dream worlds are not as prevailent here as they are in the follow up Debut album 'Walk Into The Light And Reach The Sky' but make an appearance nonetheless but as with the rest of the record seem lush and fresh, never straying into the murky territory of 'Experimental/Progressive expression' and fit the music very well indeed. While it is true that the clarity of the lyrics in some songs is left wanting, this is to be expected from a CD that's firstly only four tracks and secondly was recorded very quickly under pay by the hour studio rules, making the passionate delivery throughout that bit more impressive.
Overall Impression — 9
This concoction of neo prog, hardcore and post-rock with a sharp punk edge have served Secondsmile well with a cult following that started with this EP, and at the time of writing includes opening for acts such as Fall Of Troy on their europe tour. By turns artistic, original, stunning, deep, relaxing and intense, Secondsmile step a very projected and confident pathway over all their chosen genres' shortcomings and cliches. I am incredibly glad I stuck around to see them 2 years ago to buy this EP as the quartets song writing ability is never over ambitious or I'll conceived, and even manages to deploy their own unique tone and technique, stamping it across every track. The short run time of the four tracks is a sore point for me but wanting to hear more is perhaps in turn a good thing, I highly recommend this band to anyone sick of 'scene' bands trying to fly into the realms of originality, because Secondsmile built themselves wings long ago, and only time can tell where their creations will take them.