Secondhand Serenade
A Twist In My Story


3.0
good

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
June 20th, 2009 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Proof that flawless is not a synonym for perfect.

Despite the obvious wealth of talent and artistic integrity that lies beneath the surface, it's impossible to escape the fact that the popular music industry is often largely image-based. Dedicated though they may claim to be, half of Oasis' fanbase would disappear if the band weren't from Manchester, and the same is true of many mainstream artists' supporters in one way or another. That's why record labels employ people to style the people they represent; to some extent, producing pop music is a matter of appealing to demographics. The Jonas Brothers need to seem innocent, Britney needs to seem risqué, and so on. But possibly the best example of this phenomenon sits with whoever tailored John Vesely's image. Through the medium of music, his pseudonym Secondhand Serenade sounds like your typical nasal pop-punk frontman with more force behind his vocals and more going on in the accompanying music. You'd probably put your house on him being in his early 20s, and a fair amount on him being single and odd-looking. You'd certainly never guess that this melodramatic pop(-rock) singer-songwriter was 27 and divorced. Kids with fringes just don't relate to guys who are nearly 30, right?

So you have to wonder where all the material for A Twist In My Story comes from, given his situation. If it's fabricated, then Vesely is a brilliant liar; the conviction behind his cross-faded vocals on Suppose imply a very real experience, as do most of the passionately delivered choruses on this record. Granted, the range of emotions and topics is hardly groundbreaking – girls, girls and more girls – but sometimes simplicity achieves more than depth, and this is one of those times. Sometimes those sentiments cross over into the clichéd musings of any random teenager, like the title-track, which is an exercise in unoriginal melodies, ineffective instrumentation and lyrical platitudes, but there are actually some real gems on offer, like Fall For You's So hold your breath, because tonight will be the night that I will fall for you, over again. If you can't deal with simple and occasionally simplistic lyrics, you'll hate A Twist In My Story.

Thankfully, as long as some remnant (however small) of your 15-year-old self still survives, there's a good chance you'll find something heartwarming about Secondhand Serenade's second studio album; it sounds a hell of a lot like a more confident and slightly more poppy Dashboard Confessional, the latter quality not being in any way a bad thing. Tracks like Stranger showcase an ability to pen radio-friendly hits with enough power and subtle energy to warrant multiple plays, atop a permanently dramatic piano line and drums which, as is so often the case on this album, drive the chorus home brilliantly. The instrumentation on Twist is not overly complex, but it is very well composed – being the only member of the 'band', it's clear that Vesely is an impressive multi-instrumentalist and has a good grasp of how to write pop music. To add to that, the production is pristine but not so flawless as to ruin tracks by way of rounding every rough edge. The distant percussion in the background of Why is a good example of very subtly-executed nuance, and although it's by no means experimental or even brave, the record is better off for its small quirks.

Unfortunately, they are small, and it makes it difficult to replay this album too frequently when there is so little originality and risk-taking. Tempos change and instrumentation changes and there are acoustic tracks and plugged-in numbers, but it still all maintains that faux-bedroom vibe you might know from Dusk And Summer, and it gets a little bit tiring. The tracks are good enough, but none of them (bar, perhaps, Fall For You) ever reach the heights that need to be hit when you're talking about recording something this derivative and populist; it's easy-listening, and angsty teens will find a hell of a lot to offer here; the melodies are sometimes fantastic and the guitars, though inoffensive, are pleasant and sometimes impressive. But that's not enough. Unless you find a special personal connection to some of these songs it's unlikely you'll ever fall in love with them because they don't force the issue enough. A Twist In My Story is a well-written album by a man who clearly knows what he's doing, but it's a record that's been released plenty of times before, and sometimes better.



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user ratings (75)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
June 20th 2009


10198 Comments


See album I have on somebody's list, see it doesn't have a review, review it.

YouAreMySilence
June 20th 2009


3727 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I was borrrrrrn to tellllll yooouuu I lovvvvve yooooou

Your tagline was perfect and I went quickly through the review and it seems decent I don't really agree with the Dashboard Dusk And Summer reference.

This is wayyy too overdramatic in every sense and Fall For You is only good for making stupid impressions.

Waior
June 20th 2009


11461 Comments


Oh look, another stupidly perfect Adam Knott review. Go figure.

Pos. Album sounds meh.



Knott-
Emeritus
June 20th 2009


10198 Comments


@yams: idk i like taylor swift maybe thats the key

@caleb: haha thanks. album is meh, today is the first time ive played it in about 10 months.

oh and YAMS, the dashboard is SO obviously there.. in fact at times you could get confused between the 2 it's so obvious.

Waior
June 20th 2009


11461 Comments


Haha, yams.

YouAreMySilence
June 20th 2009


3727 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

oh and YAMS, the dashboard is SO obviously there.. in fact at times you could get confused between the 2 it's so obvious.

I feel like the most ignorant person in the world because everyone says this but I don't see it.
Haha, yams.

haha so fuckin metal.




foreverendeared
June 20th 2009


14678 Comments


that was part of his marketing image to begin with, he was compared to Chris Carrabba

Knott-
Emeritus
June 20th 2009


10198 Comments


i didnt know that but its fairly obvious so i wont claim it personally.. either way this is nice every 4 months. thanks for the msgs, xx

Essence
June 20th 2009


3587 Comments


yay you finally managed to not be lazy with your summary

Knott-
Emeritus
June 20th 2009


10198 Comments


:D achievement bonus +28 points

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 21st 2009


3742 Comments


okay so with this it's determined that i can't trust strikey's judgment at all

Knott-
Emeritus
June 21st 2009


10198 Comments


what i rate things between 3 and 5 3 being MEHHHHHHHH and 5 being WOOOOOOOO

this is as good as a lot of dashboard stuff stop complaining.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2009


15743 Comments


played with this guy once huge bore

toyour
October 20th 2009


95 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know this comments late coming
Buut
His music that backs his lyrics are amazing
And his melodies
It's his done and redone lyrics that bother me.


Vespiion
August 23rd 2011


1222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is probably my biggest guilty pleasure.

Digging: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

Jozh
September 1st 2011


610 Comments


My mom likes this.

toxin.
November 6th 2011


12777 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As far as pop music goes, this is good. It's good at what it tries to do, and that's good enough for me. Surprised I hadn't rated this yet.

KimmsightMatters
November 6th 2011


6147 Comments


"Like a Knife" makes the album for me.

Knott-
Emeritus
November 6th 2011


10198 Comments


bcos tonight will be the night that i will fall 4 u over agaaaaaaaain

toxin.
November 6th 2011


12777 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For what it is, that's a good song. As is 'Like a Knife' so whatever



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