London – Secret Someones, the union of Brooklyn-based singer/songwriters Bess Rogers, Hannah Winkler, and Lelia Broussard with the addition of drummer Zach Jones, came about organically through tour sharing as solo acts and joining in on each other’s sets. The new band’s self-titled debut album is a strong endorsement of how well the trio of voices mesh together and of its knack of writing instantly memorable songs collectively. The record features ten original songs with no less than six of them then revisited via acoustic versions, as bonus tracks on the iTunes version. With Rogers on guitar, Winkler (guitar and keys) and Broussard on bass, the band can rock out with the best, belying their more acoustic roots. Drummer Jones adds some busy, energetic fills and crisp punctuation.
Producer Chris Kuffner has fashioned a very upfront sound that reflects the more recent pop direction Ingrid Michaelson has taken; someone with whom Kuffner has had a close association over the years. To keep things in the family, Secret Someones’ singer-guitarist Bess Rogers has played guitar with Ingrid Michaelson on tour and is also married to Kuffner. As well as these contemporary connections and an acknowledged Weezer influence, there are nods to the past with echoes of bands like Heart and Jefferson Starship in its sense of bombast. This band could certainly cover “We Built This City” with aplomb. The record kicks off with a note of positive defiance in “I Won’t Follow”, signalling moving on as something as liberating as it is revealing: “Living in your shadow / made me blind to what I needed”.
The Kuffner influence keeps reminders of Ingrid Michaelson’s song structures to the fore, particularly on “Heartbreaker”, which also comes with a touch of early Alanis Morrisette in its stop-start dynamics. Such reference points come to mind because there is a classic feel to the record, like the band is sucking in aspects of great songs from down the years. The oh-oh-oh-hey-hey chorus in “Hey Hey Honey” sounds a more current pop note too. You might point to the album being a bit derivative but that word does a disservice to how well this collection of songs is constructed. The three female vocalists also interchange, taking lead turns and harmonising on choruses, and blending so well together that the results are seamless.
The album’s tour-de-force is arguably the single, “Headfirst”. I defy anyone to dislodge it from their mind after a couple of spins. With a huge chorus that you’ll swear you must have heard before, searing guitar, thumping beats and a weirdly fitting bridge, which singer-bassist Lelia Broussard states to be ‘Rage Against the Machine-inspired’, “Headfirst” is three minutes of the brightest and boldest pop. With airplay, it’s a potential #1.
Independence and relationships are two elements in the band’s writing seen in conflict lyrically. The sense of not wanting to live in someone’s shadow links songs from the opening “I Will Follow” to the empowering “Quit Pulling Me Down” through to the impressive closer “Chase Your Shadow”. The overall tone is positive and spirited. Ground may not be massively broken by this album but it is a truly solid and polished debut. Countless bands would also quietly confess to envy if they had this strong a collection of tunes.
You can catch Secret Someones on selected US tour dates in October while the band is supporting Marianas Trench on THE HEY YOU GUYS!! TOUR in November.
Tony’s great passion in life is music and nothing gives him more pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. His association with Best New Bands brings great opportunities for this. He also writes for Consequence of Sound and is a judge for Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition.
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