by manny marx
Posted on Jan 12, 2016
Secret Lives' nine song album "Fortune Teller" is a banger. It's not only 20 mins of non-stop solid musicianship but also filled to the brim with masterful lyricism. Rob, Duncan, and Gordon keep it so fucking real that it reminded me exactly why I went to hardcore shows 20 years ago. Albums like this are the reason why I feel compelled to write about and share independent music. It's ordinary, albeit talented, people creating extraordinary music. Oh, and did I mention this album was just a "side project" as its members are from Iron Chic and Capital.
The album kicks off with "Sick and tired" and soon as the song starts it's undeniable that you are in for some good post-hardcore, rock, or whatever we are calling this kind of music these days (It's good music just leave it at that). Then Rob drops the first line, "Hey man! What you gonna whine about today!?" This pretty much sums up 2015 in a nutshell for me, with the rise of the Regressive Left on one side and the
Far Right Alt-Right, with its newly crowned bigot at the helm, on the other. When Rob yells, "I'm so tired! I hear it everyday...every fucking day!" I can't help shake my head at what we have in store as the USA gets ready to be pulled apart during the upcoming "election process".
While on the topic of politics "Cost of living" and "Sea of debt" will undeniably hit home with a lot of people who #feeltheBern. Rob hits the nail on the head when he says, "Cost of living going up while your paycheck stays the same. There's no wonder why we are feeling discontent... you'll never have enough. Forget about retirement just save enough to buy a casket." Then in "Sea of debt" Rob belts out, "Goddamn! This ship is sinking! We're all going down! We're all gonna drown!" The musicianship and song writing is as solid as it can get and it serves well as the "spoon full of sugar" to help the somber message go down. Also, I can't forget to mention that Phillip Walter Douglas did an excellent job recording the band especially with the drums. The lyrics, music, and sound fit together impeccably. On a side note, it blows my mind just how many talented artists are out there and active yet see relatively very little in return.
Despite my reading into Rob's lyrics as political, I don't believe this album to be political in its nature. This is about life as a person in the US dealing with the day to day stress. "So easy", the closing track, says it all, "Why can't you find a job? You just got out college... Why can't you buy a house? Just have put some cash aside... Claim it's not hard to do, maybe for you." What I find most intriguing about this album is that each song encapsulates a moment of thought one has while brushing their teeth in the morning or during their commute to work. Secret Lives does a superb job at taking fleeting thoughts and making them into music. I feel that the album in its entirety are two forces pushing and pulling at each other but one is clearly winning the battle. This duality is something that I personally, and I'm sure many others, can relate to. "Do the right thing, that's what what they say to me. I don't wanna do it, I'm not gonna do it." I think we've all been there whether it's a few donuts after 10pm or something a bit more self-destructive.
The thing is, Secret Lives' Fortune Teller isn't defeatist or negative, it just simply points out the realities of living in 2015. In "Therapy", which might be my favorite track, pretty much spells out the "Dark Side of Big Pharma" and with 30 million Americans on antidepressants, Secret Lives poses a good argument as to why that might be the case.
At face value Fortune Teller might seem a bit morose however I find it to be cathartic to listen and sing along to. What also makes this album great is that the dialog isn't just projecting outward either, but it's also introspective, "You can't always get what you want. So, life sucks, grow up." is something we all need to tell ourselves once in awhile. While the album deals with some serious concepts, "Busybodies" is a fun track and serves as a nice break from the rather heavy content.
Fortune Teller was my favorite album of 2015 as it's just some good Long Island hardcore music. I was looking forward to what Rob, Duncan, and Gordon had in store for us next however it pains me to say that Rob passed away this week on January, 10th 2016. It's a shame that the world was divested of such a talented and kind person. He was also a great friend as well as a former bandmate and I will miss him dearly but certainly never forget him. He is survived by his son, daughter and significant other. If you have 20 minutes give Fortune Teller a listen, you won't be disappointed and if you really like it be sure buy it.