It’s always the people in between, the ones who straddle genres, that make the most exciting music. So even as Secret Shine—in their guitars, in their harmonies—echo the sound we call shoegaze, the drift we call dreampop. they bring a level of pop smarts to their music that few of their sonic contemporaries can touch.
On the strength of last year’s reissue of Untouched comes Secret Shine’s new album There Is Only Now—on Saint Marie Records, the most vital dreampop label in the world today.
Back in the early 90’s Secret Shine got snatched up by seminal indiepop label Sarah Records, because Sarah could hear the hooks in the haze, the vitality in the vocals, so much more than a trend, so much more than a sound. It’s obvious Secret Shine grew up in love with pop, in love with ABBA, in love with the Smiths.
But oh what a sound they make. The majestic grandeur of ‘All In Your Head’ is a slow-motion fireworks display that leaves your breathless. The secret is in the keyboards, the extra layer of sound that adds a cinematic quality to the pulsing guitars, or adds early Depeche Mode popcraft to the sinister ‘Dirty Game.’ Just listen to the delirious countermelody in ‘Drift Away,’ closer to Disintergration-era Cure than anything My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive ever did.
There’s a menace, and a presence, in ‘To The Well’ that separates Secret Shine from their peers, that elevates them far beyond the faceless & the frothless into an emotional bleakness that digs under your skin. Or take the relentless heartbreak of ‘Things I Said,’ a song that proves that Secret Shine aren’t about pedal boards, they’re about what it means to be human and struggling to live.