Secret and Whisper - Great White Whale
Record Label: Tooth & Nail
Release Date: February 12, 2008
So, is Search the City's A Fire So Big the Heavens Can See It not catchy enough for you? Is a Dream Too Late's Intermission to the Moon too hardcore for you? Is Ivoryline's There Came a Lion too high-pitched for you? If "yes" was your response to any of these question (and God, could I go on), then Secret and Whisper's Tooth & Nail debut, Great White Whale, is probably not for you.
But, that isn't to say it isn't for some people.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Secret and Whisper sprang forth from the mysterious land of Kelowna, British Columbia, with a flurry of other bands releasing albums for Tooth & Nail, including Ivoryline, Children 8:13, A Dream Too Late, Number One Gun, Search the City, and Far-less. I initially decided to spend my $16 on Ivoryline's There Came a Lion and Far-less's A Toast to Bad Taste (for, you see, iTunes was selling them for a mere $7.99 each - I couldn't afford not to buy them!), and was satisfied for a while, until one of my friends kept plugging me with Secret & Whisper's "XOXOXO," their first single. I brushed them off as an Ivoryline repeat after hearing the previews on iTunes, but it wasn't until I bought the album that I realized how magnificent it truly is.
I will not deny that many of the songs sound similar. They follow the same pattern: lead singer Charles Furney singing emotion-laden verses, holding notes for what seems like forever while a guitar plays a simple but pounding riff and the drum and bass keep the beat so the listener doesn't completely forget one exists. There's also a faster paced chorus with a catchy refrain, and somewhat repetitive verses with little substance. For example, while "Anchors" is playing, I get an itching to sing the similarly-timed chorus of "Spider Besider," and even the mellow periods in the last third of each song are very similar. The intro "Blond Monster" is slow and annoying, and the mellower songs, "The Actress" and "Warewolves," are not as successful as some of the harder tracks, despite superior production values on the latter.
It may seem like this review was written to completely bash Secret and Whisper's efforts; the truth is that it is not. Great White Whale has some incredible high points which make the rest of the album worth any amount of money or energy you spend acquiring it worth your effort. "XOXOXO," the first single, is spectacular, and it is what drew me into Secret and Whisper in the first place with its well-placed and fast-paced guitar riffs and powerful, crunching chorus marked with Furney's crying of, "Machinery, don't fail me / I'm fixing these things / As they're falling apart." They are admittedly not the best lyrics, but the melody and pure energy will make you forget why songs have lyrics in the first place. "Spider Besider" is a particularly unique song, obvious in its in chorus: "Iachoku, Iachoku, I'm not as sweet as I've led you / Iachoku, Iachoku, with spiders beside her." The band says that they don't even know what "Iachoku" means, but man, does it sound cool. The brief moment of calmness near the end of the song is perfectly placed and adds to the pounding power of the next chorus. Finally, "Great White Whale" carries the same deep, under appreciated presence as Paramore's "My Heart," and the similarities do not end there: the eponymous track displays the band's talent for using background screaming and crowd vocals to enhance Furney's melodic singing, much as "My Heart" includes a singing-screaming duet to create the best use of the technique I have ever heard. Other positive tracks include "Vanishings," "Attacker," "Anchors," and "Lovers."
Secret and Whisper's debut is clearly a valiant effort by the band, and it is successful in creating a sonic experience that is superior to many albums put out by bands in the market today. While I doubt great economic success will come to these Canadian warriors due to their lack of originality in the market and even within this album, I hope they go far, because this effort proves they deserve every accolade they receive.
Number One Gun and Far-Less have both been with Tooth & Nail for a number of years and have both released albums before they were with Tooth & Nail (see Celebrate Mistakes and Broken Hearts Unite respectively). Now that that's out of the way...
I would definitely not compare them to Search the City or Ivoryline, and since I haven't heard much from A Dream Too Late, I can't say whether or not that's a valid comparison. You're right though, other than "XOXOXO", there aren't very many more memorable songs, save "You Are Familiar", and "Vanishings". I also disagree with you about "The Actress"; I think it works quite well as a slow song, though I'm not sure about it's placing within the rest of the album.
Actually the band has said on their Myspace that "Iachoku" was the name of a Japanese woman who the lead singer worked with.
You lost me at A Dream Too Late being hardcore. Oh, and it's "Machinery, don't die on me."
Pretty decent review, though.
And A Dream Too Late being too hardcore was my (apparently failed) attempt at irony, because obviously they are so poppy and un-hardcore that if you thought they were too hardcore, Great White Whale would not be the right album for you. I was basically saying that those who like purely sugary pop rock would probably not enjoy this album.
And yes, those would be the correct lyrics, I appologize