Secrets Are Sinister
With only a few hints left of their artsy shoegazer-inspired past, Secrets Are Sinister sees Longwave continuing in the U2 by way of Snow Patrol vein of 2005's There's a Fire and aiming directly for radio acceptance, this time without major label backing. This seeming grab for commercial acceptance may be paying off, as "The Devil and the Liar"'s shimmering instrumental opening soundtracks a Lubriderm commercial. Musically, the song is a dead ringer for their peers Rogue Wave and likewise owes quite a debt to Death Cab for Cutie. It's good that there are frequent tonal shifts between tracks, between moody rockers and melancholic ballads, but the influences on display are obvious, particularly when the results feel like above-average knockoffs of Gary Lightbody's Snow Patrol juggernaut. Secrets Are Sinister is well crafted, and producer Peter Katis does provide some great dynamics. There's also occasional emotional pull when vocalist Steve Schiltz -- who seems to be doing his best hybridization of Interpol's Paul Banks and James Mercer of the Shins -- goes falsetto and Katis buries that falsetto in a wall of sound, as on "Life Is Wrong," which could easily soundtrack one of the coming-attraction commercials on HBO or Showtime or a scene in a CW show. The title track is a nice, slow affair, and a lot of studio work obviously went into the dynamics of the album, although Secrets Are Sinister would be improved if the songs were more memorable.