Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Album: Longwave - Secrets Are Sinister

Album: Secrets Are Sinister
Original Signal, 2008
Rating: ******** (8/10)

As I promised yesterday...

Longwave have been around a while now, and they've been to the brink of making it huge in the past (in 2003, the band was signed to RCA and opening for acts like the Strokes), only to fall back into relative obscurity in recent years. But their fourth full-length release, Secrets Are Sinister, may well be what finally pushes this group over the final hurdles and onto the charts.

The album opens with a crushing wall of sound that sounds like the best of early Smashing Pumpkins, and indeed, when the vocals come in a few bars later, I could swear this was a song by the Pumpkins' groupies the Silversun Pickups. But there is a lot that sets this song apart from those bands - while the guitars are at times very early-90's, they also ring strongly of 70's guitar rock, from the Who to Pink Floyd.

photo by circe

The standout track on this album is, hands down, "Satellites." There is no reason on earth this song couldn't hit the Top 40 charts. The heavy sections are shoegaze-inspired alternative rock in its finest form (think Catherine Wheel), while the softer chorus is heartbreakingly beautiful. Lyrically, Steve Schlitz is at his best here, warm and emotional without being banal.

The subsequent tracks "The Devil and the Liar" and "Life Is Wrong" take the band in different directions. While not Secrets' strongest tracks, these songs do round out the record nicely (though I would have liked to hear "Life Is Wrong" as an album closer instead of a centerpiece). Then the band is back to their old tricks with the simply outstanding "Eyes Like Headlights" and "I Don't Care." The album ends a bit awkwardly on the 80's-esque title track "Secrets Are Sinister," which, while a fine song, doesn't seem to fit as a closer. But then, it doesn't much matter, since you're going to start the CD over when it ends anyway.

Secrets Are Sinister is an ambitious and professional project and shows the band at a level of maturity and confidence that could take them all the way to the top. It has its weaknesses - the oft-cliched lyrics come to mind - and it isn't at the cutting edge, but it's the kind of solid guitar-heavy pop that leaves you satisfied.

The album hits the shelves TODAY!

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