On Inescapable 90s Nostalgia and Why “Secret Society” Is One of the Most Important Punk Songs of the 2010s | By Eli Enis
It’s funny to think that the virtually inescapable 90s-indebted cultural trend of the current day has been stewing for roughly five years now—and that it was as easily memed back in 2012 as it is today. Somehow, despite a universal self-awareness throughout the underground music scene that we’re all ripping off the decade in which many of us first learned to walk, our obsession with earth-tone outfits, Polaroid pictures, and VHS-quality music video production hasn’t faded away. If anything, it has etched itself deeper into our generational aesthetic.
However, 2012 was the pinnacle of such nostalgic worship. Traditional hardcore, emo, grunge, shoegaze, and grainy, homemade indie rock all underwent rebirths, and whether you considered yourself a part of any one of those aforementioned scenes, Title Fight’s Floral Green was on your radar. It continues to be one of the ultimate crossover records of the decade: loud enough for the hardcore kids, versatile enough for the indie-minded punks—“Head in the Ceiling Fan” and “Lefty” were indications of where the band would end up on 2015’s Pitchfork-approved Hyperview—and similar enough to acts like Basement and Citizen that it could drag in a sizeable portion of The Story So Far’s crowd.
While its biggest hits were “Ceiling Fan” and “Numb, But I Still Feel It,” the track that holds up the best today is, by far, “Secret Society.” Although the majority of Floral Green fits nicely alongside the band’s gritty 2011 breakthrough, Shed, the modestly placed fourth track is sickeningly catchy—it’s also the most hard-hitting, anthemic, menacing, and fun song in the entire Title Fight catalog. Unlike tracks like “Numb…” and “Leaf”—on which vocalist and bassist Ned Russin basks in his own voice cracks—his restraint during the opening lines of “Secret Society” allows him to maintain the melody, following along with the handful of power chords that make up the entirety of the song. Not that Title Fight’s music is particularly complex, but the absurdly simplistic approach of this song actually makes it sound like the one they’re trying their hardest on.
It’s all feeling. The main riff on this thing sounds like the band were trying to snap their strings with each strum. The brooding bass intro builds enough tension to rival any mosh-part intro of the past half-decade. The drumming is responsibly straightforward, waiting for its turn to shine through during those outro fills. And again, Russin’s delivery is at its best here, audibly seething during the verses and howling during the hook with enough emphasis to let you know that he was sweating during the take.
This song is an absolute banger, instantly recognizable within the first second and wholly absorbing until the very last note. Title Fight have always been brave enough to morph into an entirely different sound from project to project—see Floral Green’s two successors, the Spring Songs EP and, of course, Hyperview, which aren’t even remotely similar to the band’s previous output—but “Secret Society” continues to be their most gratifying experimentation to date: a wildly unexpected success at making one of the hardest-rockin’ rock songs in recent memory.
And, as if the song itself wasn’t enough of a treat, its wickedly disturbing and utterly enchanting music video puts every other visual product of the lo-fi-lover era to shame.
“I’ll be you and you’ll be me,” Russin sings, yet nary a band has truly risen to the challenge.