Review: Secrets – Renditions

secrets_band_new

Since the release of their breakthrough album Fragile Figures in the summer of 2013, Rise Records act Secrets have literally been on the rise. The band resonated with the Warped crowd over the past two years and have landed on some major national tours alongside the likes of The Devil Wears Prada, Dance Gavin Dance and more.

A large part of what makes the band so enjoyable is their knack for melding metalcore and melody in a way that goes down easy for all kinds of listeners. Their catchy choruses reverberate with the pop punk pack while the band’s crunchy breakdowns strike a chord within hardcore circles. But what happens when the flash and flair are stripped away? Secrets have provided us the answer in the form of their new acoustic EP, Renditions.

This sort of outing isn’t uncommon: label mates Hands Like Houses and Issues released their own stripped down recordings in the form of Reimagine and Diamond Dreams just last year. What makes Renditions unique is its simplicity. This isn’t some experimental endeavor for the band – it’s a bare bones presentation in every sense of the word.

Recorded with Saosin’s Beau Burchell, Renditions is a truly intimate affair. The delicate nature of these recordings makes it sound as though the band were right in your living room. Gone is the violent delivery of Aaron Melzer and the band’s typical flair for the dramatic. Instead, gentle acoustic guitar notes back clean vocalist Richard Rogers as he delicately delivers each song.

“Forever and Never” opens the EP, fully capturing the band’s transition from heavy to light. The song’s new feel gives its chorus a poppy summertime vibe, even as the lyrics still sting. Somehow, lines like “How could you expect a boy like me to ever stand a chance against a girl like you?” take on an even weightier meaning in this new venue.

“Dance of the Dead” stands in stark contrast to its original form. This stripped down adaptation captures the song’s crushing emotion in a completely new way, backed by a plucking acoustic guitar. Rogers shines brightly on a new, tender version of “Fragile Figures”, which features cool harmonies during the song’s catchy chorus. You can still feel the original track within each of these songs, but it never feels as though something is missing.

Secrets slightly misstep on Renditions with a new song titled “What’s Left of Us”. While the strings and keys are a pleasant addition to the mix, the track is unable to overcome tired, cliché lyrics on the part of Rogers, even as his vocals plead. Nevertheless, the closer does little to pull down the EP as a whole.

The only major drawback to Renditions is that it’s not a new full length from the band. Rest assured, Secrets’ much-awaited third album is in the works and is sure to satiate those that desire a heavier edge. In the meantime, Renditions is a perfect soundtrack for summer nights and sing-alongs, cementing the band’s songwriting prowess and adding a new dimension to a handful of already impressive tracks.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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