Built On Secrets

Reflections EP

Written by: TL on 25/07/2011 23:40:22

I often wonder these days, whether I'm the only one in the world who mourns the turn American scene music has taken away from soaring melodies and good singers, towards generic breakdowns, cheesy synths and vocals autotuned to the point of where it might as well be Microsoft Sam singing. If you're reading this however, and thinking to yourself; "No TL, I feel your pain bro", then let me give you some advice based on a revelation that's been brewing for a while: When looking for scene-type bands, we all need to pay closer attention to Australia.

After having heard quite a few promising bands from down under - such as City Escape and Closure In Moscow - my latest discovery is called Built On Secrets, and while their debut EP "Reflections" actually came out last year, I didn't find out about them till I recently stumbled on the slightly newer 'Japanese Edition'. If it had been a half-assed debut, I guess I wouldn't have bothered to review it, but given how the disc has been my favourite listen since the new The Wonder Years album, I feel like it's worth your time reading about it, and hey, with four extra tracks on the new edition, it's almost like a full album!

While I like Built On Secrets quite a bit however, it's worth noticing that they don't deserve many points for originality. Basically they take the whole post-hardcore/scenester-rock in a direction that is hardly unexplored, namely that where focus is on energetic songs, bright, sparkling guitar melodies and soaring vocal work. Saosin, Conditions and Secret & Whisper all serve as good comparisons, although all have admittedly released superior records, and Built On Secrets main weakness is probably that they sound a bit like a little-brother band to the likes of those three.

That being said though, while they're not re-inventing the wheel, they sure know how to roll, and piano, guitar and dual-vocals all come together with maximum efficiency in songs that have had the fat trimmed off them, until they remain as pure melodic treats from end to end. The album opens with the strongest cuts "Lessons From Liars" and "Analysis", which are shamelessly chorus-oriented and instantly catchy for it, but more goodness is still to be found further ahead. Neither the ballad-y "Beyond The Shadows" (Check out the backing vocals that follow the first chorus here, om nom nom), the fast-paced "Take Control" nor the very S&S-ish "The Space Between" are far behind in recognizability and original closing track "What's Past, Is Prologue" features some really sexy usage of clean vocals on top of a breakdown part that lesser bands would probably have put generic growls on.

As for the bonus tracks that I've been fortunate enough to hear, I can say I really dig the epic mood establised by the refrain in "Certain Requests" and its intro track "As Far As The East Is To The West", which remind me a little of British power-core band The Morning After. The song doesn't quite deliver on the epicness promised though, but the band keeps exploring this corner of their sound on "Oh! Akira" and "Canvases", the former of which brings the catchyness back and also showcases cool female guest vocals.

Now, for a while I was actually planning to leave this record with a grade of 7½, punishing it slightly for its unoriginality and slightly obvious approach to the genre, but in all honest, I've since been won over by the quality listening experience provided by a band that does their thing right, even if they don't push the envelope too much. The record may be hard to swallow for people who aren't too keen of frail, lofty vocal-work (think Jamie's Elsewhere), but for those who dig that thing as much as I do, this is a cool record to get into, especially considering that Saosin has been in shambles for ages, and Secret & Whisper have gone on hiatus.

8

Download: Lessons From Liars, Analysis,
For The Fans Of: Conditions, Secret & Whisper, Saosin, Jamie's Elsewhere, City Escape
Listen: facebook.com/builtonsecrets

Release Date December 2010
**UNSIGNED BAND**

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