Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CD Review: Ten Silver Drops by Secret Machines

Ten Silver Drops, the new album from Secret Machines, deals with the complex emotions surrounding failed relationships. Filled almost equally with sadness and bitterness, this sophomore effort is a step above their debut in almost every respect and may end up being the album that defines them as a band.

Even though the name of the album is Ten Silver Drops, there are only eight songs to be found on it. That's actually one less song than the band's 2004 debut Now Here Is Nowhere. However, these eight songs have stronger melodies, better lyrics, and a style that is overall more focused.

The album begins with "Alone, Jealous And Stoned," a song that captures the feelings of loss and longing after a break up. The sad refrain of "I waited for you/ I've always waited for you" is replaced by bitterness in "All At Once (It's Not Important)." Lines like "All that time we spent I swear we wasted" really hit at how annoyed and angry we get with our exes while the pessimism in the line "What fell in place just falls apart" is pretty deep.

The emotions are not all contained in the lyrics. Time seems to move a little slower when you're depressed and that's certainly the case with "Daddy's In The Doldrums." It's over eight minutes long and a slow, almost plodding melody makes up the bulk of the song. "I Hate Pretending" features the refrain "I hate pretending I'm like you" and the hate explodes towards the end of the song. Things briefly devolve into an amazing cacophony of crashing drums, drum machines, and barely recognizable guitars before composure in the form of a more standard drum beat is regained and accompanied by lighter sounds. Meanwhile, the appearance of an accordion on "I Want To Know If It's Still Possible" works surprisingly well.

Ten Silver Drops is a great album and one of the best I've heard so far this year. This is an album that rewards you each time you listen to it. Once you get past the excellent music which expands the sound of their last album while staying focused, the heartfelt emotions in the lyrics will hit you. After that, you notice that the album's progression has parallels to the process of dealing with a breakup and that the tinkly keys and rain sounds that appear throughout the album just might be codes for tears.

Time will tell, but for now, I think that Ten Silver Drops may be to Secret Machines what The Bends and A Rush Of Blood To The Head are to Radiohead and Coldplay respectively. I'm not saying that Ten Silver Drops is necessarily in the league of those albums (although it's quite close). What I am saying is that those albums are the ones that defined those groups. The Bends forever changed the perception of the band who made "Creep" while Coldplay grew out of the shadow of Radiohead with A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Ten Silver Drops may just be the album that we will later say is the one that really defined Secret Machines.

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