Chicago’s Secret Colours have just released their second album, Peach, and it is everything that name implies — sweet, tasty, and a satisfying summer treat. Their first album, Secret Colours, had sufficient reverb to qualify them to play at next week’s Bathysphere: A Psychonautical Voyage, wherein they’re paired with “new gaze” and neo-psychedelic bands like First Communion Afterparty. But if we are to rave about Peach — and get ready, cuz we’re about to — let’s first clarify what kind of band Secret Colours really are, and what they aren’t.
Based on Peach alone, they’re not a psychedelic band. They are, at their roots, a riff-resplendent blues band with a gloss of pop chops that bear a stronger resemblance to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Blur than to any of the bands they’ll play with in Minneapolis on Friday night. But that’s good company to be in, and on Peach, there are no fewer than 10 songs you could easily hope would make it onto radio playlists from the ’60s – the Aughts. Tommy Evans doesn’t have a distinctive voice, he just has a voice you could listen to for hours. Similarly, guitarist Brian Stach cannot play a single note you don’t want to listen to. Producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse) has managed to harness good songwriting, great guitar playing, and charismatic singing to create a sound that, measure for measure, is always surprising. “Wow,” you say, “I did not see that (riff/solo/shift) coming.” Did we mention they are really young, and this is but their second album?
Since we’ve been playing the album, uh, nonstop for days, we do wonder whether they’ve simply got us under their spell, a band like, say, the Vines or maybe Jet, that, because they know how to pull together hooks and riffs and a purring voice into sonic candy, they lead you to gorge on empty calories, and you hate yourself in the morning. Pretty sure that’s not the case here, as long as you accept them for what they are.
Bottom line: Secret Colours is a band like the Plimsouls that beguile you on the basis, essentially, of strong songwriting, singing, and guitar playing, and that’s enough. Yes, some of the underlying song structure can, for a moment, make them sound like a generic ’90s rock band. They maybe could have pared the album by three songs. But cast those doubts aside. This is a band that is as confident, though nowhere near as obnoxious, as Oasis was two albums in. Peach is an album you can play over and over again and still want to hear more. They are much more commercial than a true alternative band. But that’s just fine. It’s a good thing when an excellent band becomes huge, as we — and they — have every reason to believe they’ll be.