Oh my God, they cloned the Kennedys! No, it’s not some sort of Republican nightmare. I’m not even talking about those Kennedys. I’m talking about my reaction as I looked at the cover of the CD and read the descriptions of this married duo from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Could it be that someone else has adopted the shtick of Virginia-based singer-songwriters Pete and Maura Kennedy — the ’60s-derived songwriting, jingly-jangly guitars, relentlessly upbeat melodies, and occasionally too precious, literary lyrics?
Well, not exactly. “Pull You Back” has its share of ringing, early REM-like guitars. And “Just Like a Genius” mentions Burroughs. But for the most part, Secrets shows another married duo combining some of those Kennedy-esque elements, and a few others, in their own way. For one thing, it’s the husband, Bill Villa, who handles most of the vocal chores (Maura is the Kennedys’ primary vocalist). He’s got a breathy singing voice that brings to mind lush ’70s balladry and modern champions of it, such as Joe Pernice. A couple of songs, notably “Always Ending,” prove out of his limited range, but tracks like “You’re Laughing” are effortlessly catchy pop confections, and “Like There’s No Tommorow” and “We’ll Show ‘Em” have some Elvis Costello-like touches.
Overall, a nice pop record. Just don’t get ’em confused with that other couple.