Official Secrets Act – Understanding Electricity

Difficult to pigeon hole, Official Secrets Act describe themselves as the sound of ‘Heart and Soul, Bang And Crash, Song and Sound, Life and Death, Noise and Quiet, Then And Now.’ Having checked them out recently at a number of gigs I’d have to agree with their vague yet completely accurate description.
Effervescing with emotion, debut album ‘Understanding Electricity’ is both a sanctuary and journey inwards, as well as an exploration of the external world.
The intoxicating intensity of songs such as Hold The Line and The Girl From The BBC is unsurprising when you chat to the band and discover the genuine passion they have for making music, and more specifically, making music as Official Secrets Act.
‘Official Secrets Act is everything to us. We have sweated and bled for it, we have dreamed and travelled with it. For me there is nothing else in life. Most importantly it’s a chance to sing and make noise with your friends in a way that somehow expresses your ideas about the crazy fear and joy that is life.’
Live the band are exciting, perceptive lyrics tumbling over quivering melodies and pummelling beats. The songs contain a pervading elegance, combined with an energy that fizzles out to ignite the audience.
For Official Secrets Act, this is the key ‘connecting with people…watching people fall in love with the songs and travelling across the country (sometimes the continent) to come and sing and dance with us. ‘
There is the arms in the air singalongness of bands such as The Enemy, with lines ‘Friday night, is the only thing left to rely on’ such as in album opener ‘Mainstream’, and the ramshackle perfect pop song that is ‘So Tomorrow’ went down well at the summer festivals. The band headed back to their demi home (half the band are Scottish) to play Rockness, as well as achieved the dream of playing Glastonbury.
However, perhaps unsurprisingly, OSA have got their eyes on playing somewhere a little less conventional, preferring not to keep their enchanting exuberance confined to a field. A perfect festival would take place ‘near the north pole underneath the Northern Lights, howling at the stars as the aurora borealis flows above our head. Brakes, Arcade Fire, David Bowie and Bat For Lashes would be on the bill, and we’d drink only mountain filtered vodka mixed with blood red wild berries.’ Inventive as well as impassioned, Understanding Electricity offers as much variation as their live sets, which see a game of musical chairs going on as the band members switch instruments. ‘The Girl From The BBC’ layers up long notes and convulsing guitars, whilst ‘Momentary Sanctuary’ opens with synths and beats that come cascading down in a superbly atmosphere fashion. 2 minutes 50 in is where this song really stands out, lush strings bubbling away to build into a crescendo of intensity.
Dizzingly catchy Official Secrets Act are already emulating their musical heroes, whom they cite as ‘anyone who sees the fear and happiness in life and celebrates it in all it’s colours. Anyone who gives it straight, but with fire and brimstone, not rain and concrete.’ The Kinks, Bowie, Roxy Music, Pilot, Mystery Jets, Squeeze, Blur and Nick Drake, apparently.
Captivating and hypnotic, delivered with a forceful intensity, ‘Understanding Electricity’ is a masterpiece in effulgence. I’ll leave the last words to the band. ‘OSA is a living breathing glittering band. Trust in us and we will trust in you.’ Seductive stuff.

Francesca Baker

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