For me, vocals are probably the most important part of a band’s sound. If you can’t grab me there, then you won’t reel me in with the instrumentation. The vocalist is at the front of the music, and speaks the words that will be repeated by the fans. So without a strong vocalist, the rest of the show falls apart much easier for me. With The Ascent, the debut album from Secrets, the band really got me interested from all angles. However, with their sophomore release (Fragile Figures), they’ve traded out screamers, and the new guy just doesn’t fit in. If you’ve listened to the latest Ace Augustine record, then you have an idea of what kind of change to expect here. Rather than just get a new vocalist who also screams high and frantic, they decided to go for someone with more of a grumble style. It’s almost off putting, and takes quite a while to “get used to”. Even after a handful of spins of Fragile Figures, I’m still trying to get myself to be OK with the new guy.
Stepping aside from the new screamer for a moment, the singer is still in play thankfully. His work is still strong, and really helps fuel the songs here. I’d say his parts aren’t as catchy or memorable as they were during The Ascent, but he still offers the best moments of the record. It takes Fragile Figures a while to really find itself. The first half of the collection doesn’t really break through the walls, with the exception of “Repair Refuel” and “Forever And Never” (which both have some great sung sections). It’s really around the half way mark that Fragile Figures finds its most solid footing for the rest of its duration. Once you get passed the two heavier tracks – “Wasted Youth (Part 1)” and “The Architect (Part 2)” – you’re brought back to the light with “Maybe Next May”. From this point on, Secrets have a more interesting sound playing forth. It’s a little more varied, and even the screamer seems to do a better job with fitting in. I can’t help but wonder if the last handful of tracks were written during a separate period of time, and it was then that the band was coming up with their best material. Whatever the case, it is definitely the second half of the record that wins the most points.
The main problem with Fragile Figures is the screamer, honestly. If they had never switched guys, I think this record would have been much more enjoyable. Still, some people may find that the lower grumbles work better (even if I don’t), and you can get used to him if you spin the songs enough times. As this record stands, it definitely is a step down from the band’s debut. However, it also features a handful of great moments worth exploring. So, all in all, it’s decent; just nothing special. (Nathaniel Lay)
Purchase Fragile Figures here: http://merchnow.com/catalogs/secrets