Secret Cities: Pink Graffiti
Western Vinyl

Secret Cities' Pink Graffiti takes its inspiration from Brian Wilson and how his work provides a prism through which to view youthful things (that inspiration bolstered by a fateful meeting between the band and Wilson). But while the album includes a goodly share of baroque passages of the kind that so famously mark Pet Sounds and Smile (hear, for example, the spellbinding vocal polyphony coursing through the opening song “Pink City”), Pink Graffiti ultimately exudes a rollicking spirit and joyful abandon that points it more in the direction of Arcade Fire than The Beach Boys legend (especially audible during the passionate choruses of “Pink Graffiti pt. 2”).

On production grounds, the material often sounds like it's being heard through fog—a presentation style Secret Cities members Charlie Gokey, Marie Parker, and Alex Abnos presumably desired and that bolsters the music's trippy, psychedelic character. Regardless, it's the album's melodic dimension that distinguishes it most, from the catchy whistling theme that sweetens “Boyfriends” to the water-logged instrumental “Wander.” The album's high point comes eight tracks in when “Pink Graffiti pt. 1” bolts from the gate in a flood of radiant melodic hooks, breathy vocals, and thunderous tom-toms. Other standouts include the jubilant “Color,” which soars rambunctiously with an innocent spirit redolent of the ‘60s, and “The End,” a lullaby that brings the album to a wistful close. Strong too is “Slacker,” which, abetted by the violin playing of Haley Thiel, exudes exuberance and drama in equal measure. As captured on this forty-minute collection, the group's pop sounds raw, kaleidoscopic, and elemental yet is often powerfully affecting too.

June 2010