What is it About This Place?
I understand where Secret Annexe are coming from and what sort of sound they’re hoping to attain. I also understand the title of this album and how it relates to the direction in which they’re trying to take this sound. Try as they might, the band doesn’t seem to be able to take their various multiple talents and create distinguished indie folk/rock. Instead of delving deep in some hidden, unplumbed crevice of the genre and making it their own, Secret Annexe play it as non-confrontational and generic as possible. The big, obvious riffs and chord progressions are fun, no question, but you can get the same enjoyment listening to Ladybug Transistor and still get lost in the layers. Maybe it’s because I’m so incredibly tired of power-pop and its derivative offspring, but a stronger focus on pastorals/autumnals and a lessening of the 4/4 downstrum could lift the band’s sound up and away from mid-’90s alternative mediocrity. That said, the meeting of elegant and manic does occasionally pay off for the group. The closer, “Cello Love Song,” reaches cacophonous levels of guitar effects, which the somber viola’s insistant melody cuts through like a dour knife. Weezer never sounded like that, and hopefully on Secret Annexe’s next album they’ll forget barre-chords ever existed.
Secret Annexe: www.secretannexe.net