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The Secret Handshake - Summer of '98 Album Cover

The Secret Handshake - Summer of '98

Reviewed by
4.8
The Secret Handshake - Summer of '98
Released March 6th, 2007
Triple Crown Records


It was far from unpredictable that another electro-pop album that beats the "remixes are still cool and so is the vocoder" horse would drop early on in 2007 to rattle the surprising stream of excellent releases. There's an incessant need for these sloppy-seconds acts playing off the growing indie ass-shaking crowd, and The Secret Handshake proves its still in full-effect with Summer of '98.

It's not like Triple Crown Records tarnished their reputation this time around; they did that with Anterrabae. But snooping around the suburbs for another beaten 'n bruised solo act that sneaks his 8th-grade reminiscences in behind smoothly applied electronic sparkles is a disappointing move to preserve a solid lineup as the one Triple Crown has maintained. To put your name behind an EP that boasts seven tracks with four remixes that, honestly, should have become mere iTunes exclusives is a head-scratcher in its own. Summer of '98 probably had good intentions, but such is only a fleeting thought as the outcome of the EP outweighs my sympathy for Luis Dubuc's uninspired effort this time around.

First track, "Summer of '98" -- cue Hellogoodbye comparisons...now! In all seriousness though, you'll get acquainted with this song as you'll hear it three times over the course of the EP; in its original state and remixed by the likes of Ronnie Darko and P.O.S. The most interesting version is P.O.S.'s remix, though don't mistake 'interesting' as 'good'. The Minneapolis anti-mainstream hip-hop artist layers the song with an odd subterranean texture that doesn't fit with Dubuc's optimistic vocals at all. Darko's remix fairs a bit better but the various shuffles and bleeps aren't worth sticking around for the entire track. "Too Young" is sturdy instrumental-wise, but it is severely lacking any lyrical girth. The "orchestral" ending gives it a nice touch but Dubuc's lyrics come off no more than passable diary-drama. The surprisingly minimalist remix by Dillinger Escape Plan and Toxic Avenger's dirty-disco spin don't do it any justice, either.

"The phone call ended in such a way/That I wasn't sure just what to say/Who to call/How to feel/Won't someone tell me is this even real"

"Don't Call" is the only song on the album I can see myself coming back to listen to. Luis doesn't try to justify his beat-worthy strut here. Rather an down-to-earth electro/piano piece is put to the test and is actually pulled off quite well.

Summer of '98 is sadly a shot-before-buzzer effort only perpetuating this sort of lackluster attention to the creativity and endurance any album shouldn't be without. If Luis Dubuc has it in him, he could go far. The man is talented and suitable for a more expansive fanbase. But, only when he escapes faults like this EP can he appeal to an even wider audience than he already has.
This review is a user submitted review from Scott Irvine. You can see all of Scott Irvine's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16
06:08 PM on 04/08/07
#2
evilandgood
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as always, a great review from Mr. Irvine.
i really have no hope for this "band." non at all.
the resident wigga(check Chappelle Show for reference) at my high school can write better lyrics.
terrible, terrible release
10:35 PM on 04/08/07
#3
lassise
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i saw him on the let it ride tour with atl, valencia, and hit the lights. i couldn't believe his beat ass got on the tour. i fucking hated every song, i was afraid i was gonna read this review and see "album of the year," I agree it sucks, but i did like the voice synth for a hot minute.
10:39 PM on 04/08/07
#4
irthesteve
All that wander are not lost
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i didn't even download the remixes, in my eyes the ep is 3 songs long. i hate when remixes are added to albums (see: head automatica)
11:44 PM on 04/08/07
#5
BruisedxBroken
Our song, the sound of suffering...
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it's amazing to me that sub-par crap can get 80+ percentage points on this site (it happens too often), but a "band" like the secret handshake gets a 31! Not that I'm a huge fan of this dude, cuz I'm not. And I do agree that putting four remixes on an ep is stupid. but 31%? that isn't fair. summer of 98 is catchy as fuck, even if it does sound a little like hellogoodbye. i just don't get what goes thru peoples minds when they post reviews here. is good and bad music REALLY that subjective?
12:59 AM on 04/09/07
#6
Jason Tate
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it's amazing to me that sub-par crap can get 80+ percentage points on this site (it happens too often), but a "band" like the secret handshake gets a 31! Not that I'm a huge fan of this dude, cuz I'm not. And I do agree that putting four remixes on an ep is stupid. but 31%? that isn't fair. summer of 98 is catchy as fuck, even if it does sound a little like hellogoodbye. i just don't get what goes thru peoples minds when they post reviews here. is good and bad music REALLY that subjective?
Where are you getting this 31 number?

And yes, "good" and "bad" music is that subjective; furthermore, there is no "catchy" rating.
01:29 AM on 04/09/07
#7
12:46AM
is a brain in a vat
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good review. i think you justified the poor score quite effectively.
01:41 AM on 04/09/07
#8
emiliodelgado
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Where are you getting this 31 number?

And yes, "good" and "bad" music is that subjective; furthermore, there is no "catchy" rating.
hahah i think that was either Luis himself or his girlfriend.
01:54 AM on 04/09/07
#9
chcougar1
...
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Wow. I think this score is ridiculously low.
11:27 AM on 04/09/07
keeplioving
sell my old clothes
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I completely agree with this review.

"But snooping around the suburbs for another beaten 'n bruised solo act that sneaks his 8th-grade reminiscences in behind smoothly applied electronic sparkles is a disappointing move to preserve a solid lineup as the one Triple Crown has maintained."

that made me laugh. so true.
09:05 PM on 04/09/07
tm decomposer
KEMBA WALKER 4 PREZ!!
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100 % agreeable. I changed the name of his crap on my ipod to The Secret Handjob
01:44 AM on 04/10/07
thatwasamoment
RICH GANNON WAR WAGON
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100 % agreeable. I changed the name of his crap on my ipod to The Secret Handjob
Why is he on your ipod?
01:56 PM on 04/10/07
tm decomposer
KEMBA WALKER 4 PREZ!!
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for a good laugh. And now hes off
02:57 PM on 04/10/07
saving jonathan
everything in transit
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very well done review. some of his stuff is slightly catchy at times, but i think the review is dead on, and so are the ratings.
12:06 AM on 06/18/07
Dan CiTi
To Let The World Be
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100 % agreeable. I changed the name of his crap on my ipod to The Secret Handjob
Too bad, The Secret Handjob is actually a really good band.

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