Reflecting On: Secret & Whisper – Teenage Fantasy

Secret & Whisper has long been one of my favorite underrated bands. You’ll probably remember in 2018 that I wrote a reflection on their first album, Great White Whale. My obsession with Secret & Whisper actually began when I was listening to the (original) Tooth and Nail podcast. 

You can buy or stream Teenage Fantasy on Apple Music.

Before there was the “Labeled” podcast, and really, before podcasts became a major media force, Tooth and Nail had a podcast that showcased new music they were releasing. They also had a series of video-casts called “Tooth and Nail TV,” which played new music videos from their artists. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the Secret & Whisper episode online, but like MySpace and Limewire, some things of music’s past are meant to be remembered fondly. 

The episode of the podcast talked about the album “Teenage Fantasy.” They went through the whole album after the release and interviewed a couple of the members. It’s also the only time I had heard Tooth and Nail push the band’s music. I often wonder what would have happened if the label had given the band the attention their music deserved.

The band eventually went on hiatus the year after “Teenage Fantasy” was released, citing difficulties balancing band and family, and, with no disrespect to what was obviously seems to be a right and noble choice by the band, there are times when I wonder if another reason they didn’t keep it up was just the label’s indifference to advertising. 

Teenage Fantasy (and of course, Great White Whale) is one of Tooth and Nail’s crown jewels, in my opinion. It is easily one of the label’s most imaginative and thought-provoking projects. I feel like Tooth and Nail used Secret & Whisper as their token soaring-lead-vocal-hardcore outfit to compete with the Saosin‘s of the day.

What made Secret & Whisper different was the obvious musical and vocal genius of the band, highlighted by subject matter ranging from Native American life (“Warrior”) to Judaism in the age of Nazis (“Bedroom Galaxy”) to aliens (“Star Blankets”). While other bands were still focusing on relationships and general pop punk fare, Secret & Whisper really made an effort to keep their art out of the box in what could have been a groundbreaking album for the label and the genre as a whole.

It’s hard to say whether Great White Whale or Teenage Fantasy is the better offering from the band. I feel like they found their groove with the latter album. Great White Whale has an obvious deficit in production value to Teenage Fantasy, and the writing, while perfect for the theme of that album, is overshadowed by the deeply personal lyricism of Teenage Fantasy. And it all comes back around to the idea of untapped potential. Who’s to say what would’ve come of a third project from the band?

What’s kept me listening to the album is that whenever I play it, I’m transported back to that time in 2010 when I first heard it. It’s consistently fresh for me, even 10 years later.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.