Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Secret Machines

Ten Silver Drops (2006)


Everyone has somebody in their life who's extremely, and unnecessarily long-winded. Maybe it's your dad, who loves taking half an hour to tell a 5-minute story, or your History teacher way back in 10th grade, who felt it necessary to take an entire period to discuss some ancient Roman ruler who was completely insignificant to the world, or maybe it's your boss, who takes 10 minutes to explain why you can't have a night off.

With all those types of people around, nobody wants their bands to be long-winded as well. And the playing length of the album has nothing to do with whether it's long-winded or not, it has to do with how entertaining the actual content is. This is where Secret Machines falter. You only want to write one song under five minutes? That's fine, but the content of those songs had better reflect a band who knows a thing or two about solid structure.

No such luck.

Also handling bass and keyboard duties, vocalist Brandon Curtis' voice is one lacking the real warmth that it needs to pull in a listener. The atmosphere of the opening song, "Alone, Jealous, and Stoned," is one steeped in lush guitar melodies and slow churning rhythms, the instrumentation sounding fairly Cure-esque, but as will come to be a recurring issue, the song simply drags on too long. At almost seven minutes, it's too much to handle for what's in essence a rather repetitive song.

Secret Machines just try too hard to be epic and grandiose, ultimately falling flat on most of those attempts. It's not that the singer can't carry a tune, because he can. It's not that the other musicians can't orchestrate some lengthy songs, because they can, it's that like the vocals of Curtis, the entire package sounds too calculated, and subsequently, too boring to have the songs come out as long as they do. "All at Once," the shortest song on the record at almost five minutes, builds on a steady rhythm, increasing volume by the minute, but by the time the crescendo is reached, the repetition of the chorus is too much to tolerate, dulling the effect the song could potentially have had. "Daddy's in the Doldrums" both exemplifies in title, and encapsulates overall what's wrong with the record. Hollow.

There's only so many ways I can say it. This album rambles, and rambles, and rambles, and in effect ends up right back where it started. Nothing is particularly bad, but that's simply not enough.