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"The band has always been more than our individual egos; we're no less The Secret Machines now than we've ever been," says singer/bassist/keyboardist Brandon Curtis.
When his brother, guitarist/vocalist Ben Curtis, left the band to focus on his band School of Seven Bells in early 2007, Brandon and drummer Josh Garza knew this didn't mean the end. The energy and emotion that The Secret Machines fans responded to over the last decade, and continue to seek, was intact. Rather than pull the plug, they carried on with their towering third album, Secret Machines.
Longtime friend Phil Karnats, who played with Ben in the
Polyphonic Spree precursor Tripping Daisy and filling in for Ben, was installed
as permanent guitarist. "He's an equal third member, musically," says
Josh, who says Karnats was a part of this record's earliest sessions. "Ben
is obviously irreplaceable," adds
Unfazed and undaunted, and in an industry where even the
smallest task can prove Sisyphean, The Secret Machines carved its own destiny.
"We didn't know what was happening with Warner," Josh says, "but
we thought if we were going to go out, we might as well go out with a
bang." In June 2007, the trio went into
Secret Machines' main attraction is the more muscular sound, and how it complements the themes. The minimalist "Now You're Gone" is the sound of loneliness; "The Walls Are Starting to Crack" is a six-minute journey in chapters, the only through-line being a-correct-assumption that the listener will suspend disbelief and pop inclinations in order to follow the skewed narrative. "I Never Thought to Ask" is numb alienation and stinging regret: The words come/but they won't stay. Final shot "The Fire Is Waiting" is an ethereal, gospel-inflected climax and cliffhanger, as everything asked isn't necessarily answered.
The record is a logical creative step for The Secret
Machines, over Now Here Is Nowhere (2004) and Ten Silver Drops (2006). It
builds upon the foundation established with those albums and their
well-received singles "Nowhere Again" and "Alone, Jealous and
Stoned," showing The Secret Machines have solidified as a band, even in
metamorphosis. It's a nod ahead of, yet not a departure from, the psychedelic
rock that has helped make the Dallas-bred NYC transplants a fan and critical
darling in the