This article was first published on Louder Than War on 18 June 2013.
Secret Colours – Peach (Secret Colours)
CD / DL / CASS / Ltd Ed LP with artwork by Stanley Mouse
The Summer of Psych is seemingly upon us; a series of tripped-out-pop albums pile up looking to make sonic patterns in the sunshine. And so it’s into this scene that Secret Colours release their sophomore album, Peach.
The record races in with Blackbird (Only One) all fuzzy guitars, rumbling bass, and a vocal line that manages to evoke at least three separate eras of pop without once sounding confused. This song sets the tone of the album before tripping out into a crunchy riff and expanding synth duel. It tells you everything about what the rest of the album will offer while giving away none of the surprises lying in wait in the other songs.
And there are plenty of surprises to be had; flourishes and intricacies are spread thickly but changes of tempo and a solid grasp of their musical heritage means it ‘s all flair, little filler. Indeed, there’s a strong sense that it is this band’s deep immersion in their favourite genres and periods of music that gives them the confidence to playfully mix them all up.
This pays off aplenty; Blackhole being a great example of how adding light with the melody makes the swirling haze of guitar and horizontal vocals soar and spin rather than getting lost in some cosmic dirge.
There’s a whole bushel of Doors’ flavoured keyboard throughout many of the tracks. Warm slow-build swirls, intoxicating in their crescendo. It’s just another one of those touches that make you think of the past while hearing the song in the moment.
Title track Peach begins with the sort of plinky-plonk keys and deep-country-strum you feel The Waltons would get on with before descending into a strung out refrain over a vocal sample that evokes Blur at their introspective experimental best.
Followed by Faust we get a spoonful of the ’70s; a T-Rex tease and vocal. They follow this with My Heart is in Your Soul – fabulously warm guitar tumbles before that work-a-day piano breaks through to herald a gentle, almost Belle and Sebastian, interlude.
The album closes with Love Like A Fool. This is a quieter moment compared to what’s come before mixing a classic Elton John piano sound with spiraling vocals reminiscent of the Beatles, with their minds fully expanded on wisdom and weed. Like everywhere else they sprinkle it with the Britpop sound – effortlessly heightening the heritage as we’re zoomed somewhere new.
It’s this mix of previous musical periods that is so very intriguing about this album. The ’60s psychedelia, the ’70s glam rock, the ’80s pop vocal, the ’90s guitar-fuelled Britpop sound; the fact that so many of these in themselves aped or were influenced with their predecessors makes it even more interesting that Secret Colours bring out the specific nuances of each one without getting bogged down in detail.
Peach is amongst the pick of the current psych-pop crop; reveling in its influences while taking the sound forward. The album is just packed with drop-out swirls and tumbling rhythms, fuzzy guitars and layered vocals, honkytonk piano and spacey synths that break up the impenetrably dense haze blighting so many of their contemporaries records right now.
Peach is ripe with rich, succulent sounds all wrapped up in a velvet fuzz skin. Quite simply one of the best psych-pop records you’ll hear right now.
All words by Sarah Lay.