The Moth, The Lizard, and the Secret Machines by Secret MachinesRelease date: March 24, 2023
Secret Machines is a fascinating musical group that now resides in NY City, and this release is their ‘long lost’ fourth album. Started in 2010, the music was shelved until the group picked it up again in 2020 in the wake of the excellent Awake in the Brain Chamber. There is a lot of detail in the press release about personnel changes and background on some of the music, which is likely widely available on the Internet. This is not a set it and forget it record, because like me, you may be overly curious about the great variation in this group’s sound. Are they psych, are they electronic, or even post-punk? Well, they could be all or none of those. I am most reminded of 70s prog rock and rock operas, as this suite seems to address a common theme, or at least, there are reiterations in the tones herein. It is an uneasy set and may push you off kilter when you least expect it.
‘There’s No Starting Over’ is the unsettling start to this record, with electronic twists and turns that flash by you like a whirling calliope. I hear bits of Radiohead and even ELO/Move influence woven in, before the vocals and drums crash into you like a tidal wave. I enjoy the studio trickery that skitters through the mix. It is challenging but strangely joyful! And oh, ‘I Think It’s Light Outside’ has a fabulously trippy start, which tickles my psych senses. Epic harmonies and multilayered musical hues. Rather pretty too! ‘You Want it Worse’ is one of the singles, an odd little concoction with a marching cadence. You might find your head bobbing and your toes tapping along.
‘Even Out the Overflow’ emits that unique mesh of uneasy yet delectable melody. I keep waiting for an earworm on the chorus, but you can’t really expect that here. It’s just not that kind of listening experience. ‘Last One Out’ is a lysergic daydream laced with sonic arsenic. Jittery synths keep pace with a simply strummed guitar. ‘The Answer’ is super cool with some fuzzed out guitar and heavy percussion, possibly the most straightforward tune here. It reminds me a bit of Sunny Day Real Estate, and has the requisite proggy elements that listeners expect.
‘Run Out The Silver Light’ is one of the first compositions I heard from this record, and the title is entrancing. It starts off as eerie listening, but changes into a calming song that may lull you into a false sense of security as it later ends on uneasy street. ‘The Finalizer’ is exactly what it sounds like, the coda to this strangely enthralling album. Every element this band excels at is present, and I even hear a little Pink Floyd (circa The Wall) for a short time. I imagine you might hear all sorts of influences as you listen to this on repeat. For fans of the band and all the other influences mentioned herein, I do believe you will dig this record. The chance to get your hands on a long lost album cannot be overstated, so do yourself a favour and pick this one up. Another cool addition to this enigmatic band’s body of work.