Review Summary: Secrets improve their sound tremendously despite treading familiar territory.
In the sea of post-hardcore bands around today, it can be hard to find originality within the genre. Countless acts have exhausted the tired formula of screamed verse/sung chorus and chugging breakdown formula, which leaves much to be desired. Secrets are one of those rare post-hardcore bands who are showing they want to stand out from the crowd. Their debut album The Ascent
showed much potential, but ultimately fell flat on its awful production and repetitive sound. Upon listening to the album there was a feeling that, if only the band could shed what was holding them back, they could realize their full potential. Fragile Figures
shows the band improving their sound tremendously whilst improving on the aformentioned qualities that were holding back their sound.
A lineup change that occured not too long ago within the band resulted in vocalist Xander Bourgeois exiting and being replaced with Aaron Melzer. When "How We Survive" comes blasting out of the gates, it's evident that this is a welcome change for the band. Melzer is a much more experienced vocalist, with his piercing highs and suprisingly impressive lows being miles above Xander's capabilities. The rest of the band have stepped up their game as well. The songwriting has taken a much more mature leap forward since The Ascent, and the album flows a lot better as a result. Tracks such as "Forever and Never" and lead single "Ready For Repair" showcase the catchy choruses of clean vocalist/guitarist Richard Rogers, whose vocals are the band's most valuable asset. His interplay with Melzer is damn near perfect, with the two being a perfect match of screaming and singing.
One thing that The Ascent
lacked was variety. On Fragile Figures
, Secrets have tried some new things and stepped out of their comfort zone, mainly on the tracks "The Architect (Part 2)" and album closer "Sleep Well, Darling". The former is one of the only tracks on the album where Rogers doesnt sing the chorus, with Melzer instead handling the majority of the vocals. The latter might be the best song on the album and Roger's best vocal performance to date. Starting with just Rogers with an acoustic guitar, the song builds and builds with soaring vocals until the rest of the band (excluding Melzer) come in at the end to finish it off. It's one of the best highlights of the album and shows off a side of the band that they really should incorporate into later works.
Even though the band have pushed their sound further and have improved a lot since their debut, there are still factors in their sound that are holding them back. The first of these issues is the number of breakdowns. Every single track apart from "Sleep Well, Darling" has at least one breakdown in it, and while they are done better than the ones on their debut and arent as repetitive, they still become redundant after a while. Vocally the album is miles ahead of The Ascent
, but instrumentally there isnt much going on here. The guitars have more or less stayed the same apart from slightly more techinical/melodic riffs, and the rhythm section doesnt stand out much at all. The production has thankfully been handled much better this time around, and although Tom Denney still has a lot to learn as a producer (his production on For The Fallen Dreams' Wasted Youth
was beyond horrid) he produced and mixed Fragile Figures
much better than he did The Ascent
. The vocals and instruments no longer sound muffled and muddied, and the songs benefit from it greatly.
Secrets have crafted a strong and lasting sophomore album with Fragile Figures
. With the addition of Aaron Melzer, a better production, and improved songwriting the album shows a band that is climbing up the post-hardcore ladder and close to realizing their full potential. If they tone down the breakdowns and focus more on Roger's vocals, they could really be onto something. Fragile Figures
is a promising sign of things to come.