Secret Machines
Ten Silver Drops



by mx STAFF
March 4th, 2006 | 15 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

The Secret Machines made quite a stir with their 2004 release, Now Here is Nowhere. Although firmly rooted in Indie and Alternative, the album displayed a hint of -- prog rock. Pretentious prog rock at that. It's extremely rare for any indie band's first track to clock in at 9:00, or to end on a 8:53 reprise. But The Secret Machines set out to prove them wrong, and spun a pretty successfull debut that shattered some of the conventions of the genre. Think Coheed and Cambria meets Death Cab for cutie.

With Ten Silver Drops, released this week, The Secret Machines haven't altered the formula much. Although the first track lasts for a mere 6:48, they still retain the anthemic and epic approach to songwriting exhibited in their first release. But in many ways, the album is more immediately accessible, as the Machines appear to be growing musically as a band.

If anything, they've learned the secret of pop hooks, and volume dynamics, focusing on composition rather than loud guitar riffs. The first track 'Alone,Jealous, and Stoned', fulfills the potential briefly shown in 'You are Chains' from the last album. The song, although incredibly melancholic, has a kind of quiet beauty that seems to grow as each carefully crafted guitar and vocal rhythm is added to the piece. The singing remains rather monotone and stripped back, but nevertheless it has a deep expression. Although the words 'I'm waiting for you' are more spoken that sung, they nevertheless fit within the melodic structure of the song entirely. It's the music that does the singing - to borrow from My Morning Jacket, there is a 'Wordless Chorus' in this song.

The switches between loud and quiet, and even cut time and half time feels, greatly relieve some of the boredom that existed in their first album. Although tracks are still too long in many places (As seen in the second track, and in 'Daddy's in the Doldrums'), the songs generally maintain a solid and quiet energy throughout. This is greatly aided by the drumming, which, almost without exclusion, relies on a constant four on the floor pulse, with the bass drum driving most of the songs. However, the drums are more submerged in the mix here relative to the first album, which makes this repetition more of a subconscious feel (in the first album, the relentless driving could become monotonous).

The true highlight of the album is 'Lightning Blue Eyes', in which the vocal melody is achingly beautiful, culminating in an absolutely stunning hummed final chorus. Other standout tracks include 'Faded Lines', with it's superb guitar riff and chorus, and the melancholic '1,000 seconds'. These few songs have been on repeat on my playlist since I purchased the album. At the risk of sounding fanboyish, they are carefully crafted, catchy, and musically deep. Unfortunately, there remains a fair bit of filler on this album - as always, the Secret Machine's formula is hit or miss. Without these occasional misses, and perhaps some more variety in songwriting formula, this could truly be a fantastic album. As it is, it remains an excellent buy, and well worth a listen.

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user ratings (49)

Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
March 4th 2006


Really good review. I heard some of their debut and it was great. So far all i've heard off this is Alone, Jealous and Stoned and it seems like a good start to the album.

Btw you messed up on the italics for the album title.

March 4th 2006


i saw them last year in belgium and i almost fell alseep half-way

March 4th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Well, they don't strike me as a good live band

March 4th 2006


Yeah, I saw them supporting Muse and I second that. They're far better on album, even though they still sound quite detached whenever I try listening to them.

Final Origin
March 5th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Lightning Blue Eyes = Best song of the Year so far!!

Ten Silver Drops = Best Album Of The Year so far!!

This album is better than Now Here Is Nowhere IMO, it has more raw emotion and the music is more catchier.

Two-Headed Boy
March 12th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Checking this out. It looks awesome.

Two-Headed Boy
March 15th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Ouch. This isn't out till April 27 in Canada

April 18th 2006


definately going to have to check this soon.

April 19th 2006


i dont have this one yet, i refuse to give into itunes.

i really like the "coheed and cambria meets death cab for cutie" line, especially cuz i heard them say a fairly same thing in a filter article. they said something along the lines of "how cool would it be if a band like the white stripes or franz ferdinand made all their songs blend?"

i tend to think of this group as an ambitously epic pop group. i can't wait to hear "ten silver drops"

by the way, nice review. i can't wait to hear "lightning blue eyes", ive heard so much about it

April 26th 2006


good album. I dont quite like it as much as now here is nowhere yet but i havnt really listened to this was that much.

Two-Headed Boy
April 29th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

(sigh)... it finally came out. It's an awesome album. What else can I say? It was worth the wait.

May 1st 2006


thank god it came out. i almost gave into itunes.

i love it. i was scared when i heard "the road leads where its led". the whole 6 minute ambient pop thing didn't really do anything for me. pretty much the only track i liked on that release was "immer wieder", and i was pleasantly suprised to hear that "ten silver drops" took that sound and expanded it into a beautifully epic album. i can't wait till they tour

May 17th 2006


Seen them live earlier this spring opening for Foo Fighters, they sound okay, gonna check 'em out.

October 4th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Dude, they're AMAZING live.

Good review.

I saw them at Irving Plaza, and I was right next to the drummer, and it was the most amazing show I've ever been to. He's crazily energetic, and hits the drums like they said something to his mother.

Best song : I Hate Pretending

January 5th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

One word to describe this album: lovely!

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