Secret Cities Secret CitiesPink Graffiti
It all began with letters. MJ Parker and Charlie Gokey met, they liked each other, they exchanged mails and they started, each from his corner of North Dakota, to produce songs together, via bedroom tapes. They were only 15 years old, and they named their two-man band White Foliage. Three years later (in 2005), a friend put them in contact with the people from Fall Records, the label that released their first album, still as White Foliage, the homemade and poppy, modest scale, “Zurich”. From that first release five years have passed. Five years in which MJ Parker and Charlie Gokey have found a drummer (Alex Abnos) since they had no choice if they wanted to tour, as they did so, around the always-wild American Midwest. Five years in which their psychedelic grunge has matured and they've signed a record contract (with Western Vinyl) that has allowed their first album as Secret Cities, “Pink Graffiti”, to be something more than a handful of songs on a cassette tape.
And let's say that the eight years they used to develop their own sound have been worthwhile. Because Secret Cities sound like what they are: a band ready to play with whatever they have at hand (including samples, guitars, even good vibe handclaps to kick it off, a delicate “Pink City” that sounds like Arcade Fire but in Secret Cities version; that is, a daily epic) without forgetting to look back (the construction of each song, with overlapping vocals, is very Brian Wilson), but what can we except from a band that considers itself influenced by the The Ronettes? Something good, without a doubt. And the ten tracks that make up “Pink Graffiti” sound like little classics (whistles of melancholy and very retro, why not, spectacular “Boyfriends” is one of the best of an album of perfect moments). There is time for a calm evening (the ether of “Slacker”, and its crossed voices). The mystery of why the second part of the song that lends its name to the album, “Pink Graffiti pt.2”, appears before the first part (second to last, with a more visceral and danceable air; as if, perhaps “Pink Graffiti pt.1”, were the only shameless dance track of the disc) is not resolved; but yes, this second part, made of folk rags and modest electronic diversions (and lyrical content) is what best defines the sound of Secret Cities, a sort of dark psychedelic grunge made from pieces of granulated sound.
So, Secret Cities are able to construct an ode to dead moments (the instrumental “Wander”) or to illuminate us with their bittersweet attempt at vital pop (very The Sundays, to be sure) in “Color” even scaring us with the dark, gloomy curiosity of Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails for a band that cites the Ronettes as a reference , “Vamos A La Playa”, the album's most experimental cut. And that's because they have build a sound that is far from almost anything else, that promises to give even more surprises to any fan of music that goes a step further. Although yes, the closing, “The End”, is almost a fairy tale. A ghostly one, of course.
Secret Cities - Pink Graffiti, Part 1