Out 15th September, on HasLegs Records.
Reviewed by Francesca Baker.
The mp3 player automatically files Make Do And Mend as indie pop but to file Secret Rivals away as another melodic band with saccharin sweet guitars would be reductionist, not to mention wrong. Comparisons to Los Campesinos will never be removed, the oscillating melodies, conversant rallying vocals and medley of riffs that make Secret Rivals also being the bricks on which the former band have sustained their legacy upon. Make Do And Mend sees Jay, Clouds, Andrew and Reece start to build their own.
Ghosting is a great opener, immediate and direct, combining the best pop sensibilities of debut EP Start Fires with punky razor sharp riffs. Me vs Melodrama sees a softening of voice and some gorgeously smooth fretwork, fingers over the strings like silky yoghurt in a Muller ad, punctuated by a ferocious rock riff that bundles the listener down.
Blisters is a standout track, the opening vocal of ‘you throw yourself open, arms stretched out, scars showing’ seeming to be what the Secret Rivals would have emblazoned across their chests should they choose to unearth the band’s musical manifesto and print it on t shirts.
Chiming chords delivered as though through a slightly distorted radio guaze kick off Tonight Matthew I’m Going To Be Myself until Clouds enthrallingly enters with ‘ I use lies as a means of escape.’ Don’t we all love. Although I haven’t ever articulated it with such grungy gravitas. The three minute mark sees the myriad layers that Secret Rivals chuck in with such veracity converge into a fierce cauldron of sonic inspiration.
Indie pop has the somewhat demeaning tag of summery unavoidably interwoven, but Secret Rivals sound is one of English summer days – blustery wind in the face, threatening clouds passing through a baby blue sky, cool content afternoon cider that inflicts one heck of a hangover – life as it is, the sound of gritty reality amongst the soaring melodies.
Although the angst and amour, gravelly emotions and gritty excitement, soft sticking plasters of guitars and wounds inflicted by lacerating vocals that flood the room during their live shows are smoothed down on MDAM, this is still acres above the category of ‘indie pop’ and its inverted commas.
I recommend you click here and make your purchase.