March 26, 2004

The Close "It's A Secret to Everybody"

When I write reviews, unsolicited comparisons are things that I avoid. In fact, I think it serves as an injustice for a band to simply say, "Oh....they sound like (insert bigger band here)." Comparisons aren't a bad thing, mind you; it's a technique that's used to help readers understand what the band being reviewed sounds like. For instance, saying "these guys sound like Modest Mouse" might superficially describe a record, but it's lazy in the sense that it doesn't really say anything about the band. It's just an easy out for further explaination. However, if I were to say "the singer's drunken country moaning occasionally sounds like Issac Brock" is a good comparison, as it helps the reader
to understand a little bit better what it is I've just heard. As much as I hate to do it, I have to break this rule for The Close. I've been listening to their new album, It's A Secret to Everybody, and I just have to come out and say it.

The Close sound exactly like Death Cab For Cutie.

I've tried to find a way to pussyfoot around it, but I simply cannot avoid it. From the first time lead singer Brooks Meeks opens his mouth, I'm instantly thinking Ben Gibbard, I'm automatically thinking about Death Cab's albums, and I'm unfairly pushing them into that pigeonhole. One thing that makes this comparison difficult is the fact that they've been making music for just as long as Gibbard's band. They've been around for nearly a decade, so to say that they sound like Death Cab for Cutie is selling them short in the worst way, because I don't have their past records to compare this album to. But still, the similarities are so overt that you would be forgiven if you thought this was a brand new band with a heavy-duty Barsuk fixation. Think I'm joking? Just one listen to "Darkroom Dodger" or "Paper Trail" or any of the other seven songs on this record will prove my point.

Don't think that such comparisons mean that It's A Secret to Everyone is a bad record, though, because it's not. It's quite obvious that these guys know their stuff, and have the ability to write really great songs. They've got some really great melodies--I'm a sucker for "Code of Ethics" and "Bunny and Vermin"--and I really like the boy/girl vocal interplay between Meeks and Theresa Marie Fedor, too. The fact that the album's brief helps them, too, even though I found myself wanting to hear more, because I really got into their groove.

Death Cab-sounding bands might not be your thing, but if you like moody, slightly sad rock that's not too heavy on the atmosphere or the sadness, then you might find It's a Secret to Everybody the bees' knees. A fun record that doesn't really suffer for what some might see as their greatest flaw.

--Joseph Kyle

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