Dance, You're On Fire - Secret Chiefs
Label: Southern Pulse
Release Date: 22 February 2011 (South Africa). 10 July 2011 (Germany, Austria & Switzerland)
I'm never any good at making an Intro or a review, so I have decided to step up my game and learn a little more about the band this time. I'll just get straight into it. I'll skip the anecdotes and just straight off introduce this band. The members of Dance, You’re On Fire have been writing and performing their take on a variety of musical stances since mid 2007. Describing themselves as something of a meeting point between rock ‘n roll and indie, the band aims to deliver tracks with both a pop sensibility and an element of creativity - and that is exactly what they've done.
The predominant sound of Secret Chiefs is an interesting combination of lighter indie-styled pop synth lines and up-tempo guitars (with the odd hand-clap thrown in for good measure), with a hard and dark rhythm section, comprising James Andrews' monstrous yet technical drumming and Paul van der Walt's serrated bass lines. Front man Manners has a set of pipes on him, and he puts them to use. In the guitar department, Manners and Adrian Erasmus employ a polished level of distortion in the style of bands like Fall Out Boy and Jimmy Eat World, heavy enough to mosh to but still clear enough to let the other elements play their parts.
The album kicks off with a strong trio of tracks: “Little War”, an extremely catchy tune that has serious stick-in-the-headability, is followed by the steady build and jump around choruses of “Killing Time”. The aforementioned “Boxes Of Tigers”, set to be DYOF's first European single, is next with its distinctive synth riff and a serious feel-good chorus.
A similar vibe is sustained until the tempo drops slightly for “Infinity”, and the acoustic country feel of the melancholy “Michelle” provides some contrast in the midst of this predominantly hard and fast collection of songs.
One of the strengths of this album is that the band has evidently put a lot of thought into the arrangement of each track; technically, they are also all gifted musicians. A small gripe, however, is that the overall dynamics on Secret Chiefs tend to remain at a similar level much of the time, and some opportunities to bring out light and shade and create more of an arc through the course of the album are unfortunately lost.
That being said, this is not going to trouble the general population too much as DYOF's sound is in line with the stuff of radio hits and their live energy at shows is the real deal. Troy Glessner's touch also gives this album a slickness and polish that bring out the band's obvious musical ability and technical know-how.
This is an impressive first effort from a hard-working young band who have the hunger and the talent to go all the way, and who are already making serious inroads in SA. This, as well as the good work that their label, Southern Pulse, has done in helping them to secure an entry into the European market, definitely makes them a name to watch out for in the future.