Secret Machines is the missing link between Brian Eno, Neu!, My Bloody Valentine, Pink Floyd, Neil Young and the Band. So the advance hype claims. To that I say, so what? There's a good reason why that link was missing. Granted, it does cop the Neu! drum sound a bit, but more often it sounds like the band pulled Billy Squier's drummer out of retirement.
Much of the rest of the hype about these guys dwells on how loud and powerful they are, and in part, this hoopla is borne out by the album. There is a richness and a nice wall of sound that flows smoothly out of the speakers. But the whole thing feels synthetic and prefab, and much of the so-called power stems from the fact that the disc itself is simply mastered quite loud. Anyone can pay an engineer to crank up the volume knobs, but mere volume does not equal quality or craftsmanship.
Anyway, who says that's what this band is all about? No, it's not music that Secret Machines concerns itself with so much as the oh-so-trendy tailspin of dropping the right names and wearing the right T-shirts. But no matter what names these guys drop, their music is about what you would expect from a group of '80s-obsessed, make-believe-New York scenesters from Dallas.
Their Web site sums their style-over-substance aesthetic perfectly: "three young artists who paint vivid pictures with sound and volume" engaged in "the continuous pursuit of that intangible magic." Notice that nothing is said of talent, songwriting or originality. And as for that "pursuit of intangible magic," well, until they actually make a good record, with good songs, that road will go on forever.
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