You have to love it when your favorite labels discover little gems that you probably wouldn’t have gotten your hands on, which is precisely the case here as Western Vinyl have released Secret Cities new album Pink Graffiti. Coated in psychedelic influences, with a huge leaning towards chamber music for bedrooms, this is an unexpected surprise that will be spinning in my head for months.
“Pink City” begins our journey through this beautifully crafted second album by building upon the backbone of a really solid drumming, yet ever so carefully the drums are peeled away, in favor of what sounds to be hand claps. There’s a gentle coat of fog atop the song, yet the detailing of this song pushes it into the spectrum of more than atmospheric pop, making it a genuine winner in its own right. You almost stumble right into “Boyfriends” using really light vocals and a tambourine to slowly climb your way to the top of this pop mountain, the peak of which comes near the 3:25 mark, taking you bounding down the other side, whistling all the way to the end.
What’s interesting here is that instead of filling an album full of songs blending melodies, psychedelia and coated noise, Secret Cities are happy to just explore their own musical direction. They pause mid-album to offer you up “Wander,” which has a dark sound created by the tone of the piano. You’d be close to call this music of soundscapes, but placed amidst the rest of the songs on Pink Graffiti, it allows you refresh yourself and take a moment to ponder what is you’ve just experienced. Then we’re off and running again, as the ringing guitar from “Color” begins to soar into the front of your speakers. MJ Parker’s vocals are magnificent, almost like fine crystal, but not in an overly dramatic way. It’s a pleasure to see such restraint from a band who could easily fall the way of self-indulgence.
Really, you’re meant to listen to this album all the way through, and you really should. Aside from “Wander,” Pink Graffiti is well organized. So much so, that “Pink Graffiti Part 1” is out of order, but it’s energetic pulse provides a great energy to give you the extra lift towards the end of the album. Something about the melody here that is so strong allows you to almost ignore the vocals completely, still capturing the essence of this brilliant song, which seems to have a bit of a cut and paste to it. And you’re final landing will come with “The End,” a song that finds MJ again using her remarkable pipes to propel the song into an otherworldly region that will most certainly haunt you, that is until you press play and listen to entirety of this great work over again.
Secret Cities needs more recognition, and surely their craftsmanship on Pink Graffiti will earn them some notice from all walks of listeners. Pieces emit a quiet beauty, while other moments demonstrate the band’s affinity for layering sounds on top of sounds, and others are adorned with psychedelic flourishes of the best type. Do yourself a favor and let the wonderment of this record slowly sweep you away into a place of pure bliss.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/WV72.PG_.PT1_.mp3]
Download: Secret Cities – Pink Graffiti Part 1 [MP3]