Review Summary: lived to 35 but died at 17
The Wrens are a band that should require no introduction, but sadly, they do. In my opinion they are one of the finest Indie Rock bands to ever ‘do it’ - and that’s with The Meadowlands alone. Previous to the 2003 opus, there was Secaucus. This sophomore effort from new jersey was the blueprints laid out for the band we love today, it ignored their B-grade Pixies effort ‘Silver’ released 2 years prior, and instead differentiated from this lo-fi doppelgänger-ism. Albeit not a bad effort, Silver felt to be lacking something; it lacked a sense of purpose from a band that was destined to create some of the most original Indie Rock of their time, it lacked character, the Wrens affect. Secaucus however, does not, In fact it packs the notoriously ever-adapting Wrens punch that was found on The Meadowlands and adds some muscle to it.
This prior mentioned 2 year difference meant a lot when it came to perfecting the sound of Secaucus. For the most part The Wrens have taken all of the successful aspects of Silver; The occasional loud-quiet dynamic (Darlin’ Darlin’ has become Surprise, Honeycomb) , the slow minimalistic semi-distorted songs (What’s a Girl has become Jane Fakes a Hug) and evolved them further, adding maturity and melody to the mix. This ability to adapt their sound towards something significantly better than it was is what brought The Wrens from ’simply OK’ on Silver to ‘GOD DAMN’ with Secaucus.
The Wrens are self-aware with what makes a fantastic Indie Rock album, and it appears as if they have worked hard to achieve this; taking influence from prior bands and those praised at the time and wren-ing them to a different entity entirely. Secaucus is the complete package as far as variety goes; there are the songs that burst at the seams with energy, blowing the minds, and speakers, of listeners (Yellow Number Three, Built In Girls), There are songs that take time, start slow, sit with you and then ‘crescendo’ into a euphoric experience (Surprise, Honeycomb, Safe And Comfortable), and as with all my favourite albums - there are songs to wallow in self pity (Won’t Get Too Far, Jane Fakes a Hug). Jane Fakes a hug is a particular highlight and a fantastic taster of things to come in the future of The Wrens, it’s an emotional classic that begs repeat listens to lift it’s full effect. ‘I’ve Made Enough Friends’ is another highlight showing a faster side of The Wrens which is notable throughout the album. The song details a personal one night-stand in The Wrens fashionable way of writing. It’s drunken sing-along indie rock at it’s best, with scruffy guitars and emotionally anthemic vocals to boot. The Wrens do what they do best on Secaucus and that’s exactly that - it’s the tales of life, the trivialities and the break-ups, the mid-life crisis and the growing old. It’s the sound of comfort from people that feel the same as you, only write better
The Wrens are perfectionists; Secaucus holds such a variety of different sounds over a 19 track, 55 minute spectacular. 19 tracks can often be a hard task to swallow, but with a band that has spend over 10 years working on their newest release, The Wrens aren’t the type of band to release anything that they’re unhappy with. It probably won’t go down as a 90s Indie-Rock classic, but that’s a damn shame - Secaucus easily holds it’s own within The Wrens discography, and deserves to be heralded as a classic of the 90s.