Long regarded as a ‘lost’ album, the space rock new prog titans finally release a collection of songs that they have had in the musical bank for over a decade.
Secret Machines have spent the past few years finally putting the finishing touches on what should have been their fourth LP. The Moth, The Lizard and the Secret Machines was put on pause in 2010 and brought back to life in the aftermath of 2020’s genius-laden record Awake in the Brain Chamber.
Brandon Curtis, Josh Garza and Phil Karnats decided to look inwards for their latest output, having known these songs have existed in some form or another for such a long time could have been an exhaustive experience, yet thankfully for the band and the listener alike it has turned out to be a triumph.
Opening with the thunderous joy of ‘There’s No Starting Over’ a song that initially feels like it is moving in slow motion before bursting into life. It is the Machines at their best, a full-on salvo of driven chords and angelic vocals. The record doesn’t let up ‘I Think It’s Light Outside’ follows and has a marching mantra of a chorus, reminding me of Arcade Fire and The Beta Band in parts, it feels like a mantra that is drifting in and out, floating on a sea of shoegaze goodness. Should the band decide to tour again this song is a must for any setlist.
‘You Want It Worse’ relies heavily on its Beatles influences to build and build and climb to a stop. It rolls along with a constant beat and more floating vocals ‘Even Out The Overflow’ has a real MGMT feel to it, which the origins of this song began 13 years ago makes total sense. It has a lovely Animal Collective sound, the sonic waves rushing towards you and forcing heads to nod and shoulders to bop.
‘Last One Out’ breaks the record nicely with an instrumental dream pop five minutes of escapism ‘The Answer’ follows and instantly transported me back to the band's debut album Now Here Is Nowhere. What I like about this album is how loose it feels, Brandon Curtis recently mentioned that “I’ve finally figured out how to deal with things exactly how they are. Unfiltered guitars and raw drums don’t have to be fixed if they already sound perfect. I fell in love with this record when I stopped trying to make it something it wasn’t” and this truly comes across, the songs just flow and move and create their own shapes.
‘Run Out The Silver light’ is a seven-minute, driven, epic song that you can get lost in. The outro weaves Mogwai-like into the distance and has all manner of instruments merging, I tend to concentrate on this rather than the vocals, which could well be intentional by the band, I’m certainly hooked anyway.
‘The Finalizer’ closes the record and is full of distorted tones and heavy riffs, again the vocal floats along at the front of the song but it is the guitars and Slowdive-driven drums that pull me in. These tracks have been through various incarnations, individually and collectively, but have finally come together to form a solid record that sits nicely in the Secret Machines catalogue and I’m truly grateful to the band for finally completing it, I bet they are relieved by it too.