The Secret Handshake - This Is Bigger Than You and I (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Secret Handshake

This Is Bigger Than You and I (2005)

Doll House

It's sometimes the simplest of music that speaks the loudest to you. The tandem of Luis Dubuc and Bethany Brown make up the Secret Handshake, and their newest release, This Is Bigger Than You and I makes use of nothing more than voice, piano, and electronic drums. The question then becomes, is it music that sticks, does it really speak all that loudly, or is it lost by the wayside?

Unfortunately, it's a lot more the latter. Both Dubuc and Brown have very soft, soothing voices, and when singing together, the combination is so subtle and beautiful that it gives the song a leg up right off the bat. "An Outline" shows the two coalescing extremely well, over very reserved piano keystrokes and the thick beat of the electronic drums. While the electronic drums do come across as being rather loud, it's never even close to being overpowering; the vocals are still clearly the focus of the attention.

There's only so much the pair can do vocally though, and that's where things start to run into a wall. The music is very pleasant, but lacks the elements to really grasp. The melodies, especially on "Coastal Cities" are extremely catchy, although somewhat understated, and those electronic drums really do sound on point with the gorgeous piano playing in the background. Even at a relatively slow pace, it's a bouncy rhythm, with lyrics full of hope and anticipation, and the vocals reflect that in an absolutely perfect manner. Just the same, the somber, and in this case more boring "Don't Call," has lyrics that really fit the mood and pace of the track, but things don't really become all that interesting until "Friendly Reminder." Starting with some handclaps and delicate acoustic picking, Dubuc's voice glides effortlessly over the rasp of the drums and the occasional chord strum.

Even though it's merely an EP, this is an unfortunately inconsistent effort. There are two or three songs that show the duo is capable of crafting some gorgeous pop songs, but everything else is relegated to being filler tracks on a record far too short for filler to be allowed.