Sound — 7
The music of the '80s synth-pop and new romantics becomes revitalized and contemporary in music bard, Luis Dubuc's hands as the leading member of The Secret Handshake. Along with the production team of Cory Kildruff and James Welsch who call themselves Ocelot, the trio put together TSH's first full length album One Full Year released by Triple Crown Records. The album is a succession of club mixes molded into various forms with the use of electro-pop splendor and catchy stylized house beats. The lustrous synth-pop passages have a New Order slickness and the melodic sensibilities of The Features and Hellogoodbye. Ink-spots of club beats are looped fragrantly along the electro-pop glides of Summer Of '98 with stylish softcore punk accents, while a promenading piano melody files along Coastal Cities powdered by pixie-like synth-pop overtones. Gamegirl and Wanted You have broken up angles, awkward phrasing, and chinks of spazzy synth effects latched onto obtuse rhythms. The progressions have an avant tone and experimental club intrigue seemingly befuddled and unsteady with lyrics that expose equal confusion. Certain selections have glittery electro-pop channels reflective of Tears For Fear like Denton, TX and Too Young and then other numbers have a contemporary dance momentum relatable to The Chemical Brothers like Everyone Knows Everyone and Crosses Fingers. Tracks like Pictures and Don't Count On Me have daydreamy synths harboring an Imogen Heap glam-pop spark, while pieces like Lately and I Lied About Everything have infectious dance grooves and ornamental synth-pop passages that have a Madonna conditioning, back when Madonna made relevant dance music in her Like A Virgin era.
Lyrics — 5
Dubuc's lyrics have a common phrasing which make them relatable to everyday life like in Coastal Cities when Dubuc contemplates, So turn the music down/I'm tired of talking really loud/I got just one last thing to say/Let's just drive across the country/Just drive me to the coast/Let's just drive across the country/Just drive me to the coast. The music gives Dubuc's ordinary words a flashy glam-pop coloring.
Overall Impression — 7
The Secret Handshake take synth-pop music into different spectrums not just the usual house-party and robotic-electronica spatial. Dubuc and the production of Ocelot move into creamy emo-tinged ballads, daydreamy landscapes, glam-pop froths, and some space rock curl-ups with the ease of a lucid guru. One Full Year is the follow up to The Secret Handshake's EP Summer Of '98. The group was recently involved in a project with U-MYX, an interactive music format that lets users make personalized mixes of major artists recordings without requiring any special knowledge or equipment. The project allowed fans to fiddle with TSH's tracks, which is coincidental because a lot of The Secret Handshake's tracks sound like their players fiddled with other recording artists songs as well. Dubuc shares on the group's website that he has plenty of material for TSH's next studio album showing that the field of electronica-pop allows him the freedom and creative edge to make songs beyond the mundane.