Secret Lives of the Freemasons - Weekend Warriors (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Secret Lives of the Freemasons

Weekend Warriors (2008)


Attention Hey Mike!, Against Me!, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, !!!, Chixdiggit!, and any other of the innumerable acts evidently gushing with excitement: There's a new-ish kid in town. Secret Lives! of the Freemasons are here to get the party started. OK, maybe Taking Back Sunday and the Early November already got this particular party started, but SL!OTF are at least trying to keep it going for another year.

2007 was a banner year for Victory. Not financially, that I know of, but in releasing a slew of quality albums from the likes of Comeback Kid, Streetlight Manifesto, Darkest Hour, Thursday, Between the Buried and Me, the Warriors, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Moros Eros, Ringworm and the Tossers just to name a few. For the most part, 2008 has been a different story. Releases by bands like Four Letter Lie, Across Five Aprils, Dead to Fall and Farewell to Freeway have been more or less "meh"-inducing, and Secret Lives! of the Freemasons doesn't deviate far from such receptions.

Like their barrage of predecessors, Secret Lives! of the Freemasons amass an amorphous blend of pop-rock, emo-punk and what some might attempt to construe as post-hardcore. Unlike much of today's mediocre generica emo-pop, however, SL!OTF do a commendable job of keeping their songs fairly lively, with steady, pounding rhythms and no lack of buzzing guitars. While the band does not avoid the same pitfalls of its contemporaries found in dramatic, overemotional vocals and hardcore-lite breakdowns, its lyrical content is slightly less clichéd than the average 2008 incarnation of emo.

If there's any glaring problem inflicting SL!OTF's lyrics, it's an implicitly suggested and explicitly referenced self-importance that's hard to get around. "Hey kids. Why'd you buy this? It could start a party at any given minute" declares the opener "Chug and Leave." Also: "We are the world" ("Dirty Laundry"), "We are the ones" ("Feels Like Home"), and "We are all shooting stars" ("Painting Monsters"). I can see where those lofty ideals might come in handy when looking for inspiration, but in my humble opinion you should focus on being a band first before precipitating your own stardom.

Weekend Warriors is a lot like a bowl of vanilla ice cream. It's not bad by any means, but you know what to expect. You've experienced it all before. Likewise, Secret Lives! of the Freemasons aren't bringing anything particularly new to the dessert table, and in the end they're really just another band with a played-out image and a shout-out to AbsolutePunk in their liner notes.