Secret and Whisper

Great White Whale

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Among the numerous 2000 rock albums lyrically inspired by Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick -- and there seem to be a glut of them for some odd reason -- arguably none interprets its story and themes in more elliptical, tangential fashion than Secret and Whisper's Great White Whale. Leave it to the emo kids to pull that feat off, despite barely sniffing the ocean foam with three songs out of twelve (those would be "Vanishings," "Anchors," and "Lovers"). All kidding and preconceived notions aside though, there's much more to the Canadian quintet than initially meets the ear, and most of it, ironically, derives from their rare appreciation for restraint, amidst a generation marked by frantic exaggeration. The high-pitched wails of newly acquired vocalist Charles Furney (ex-the Bleeding Alarm) are about as excessive as it gets for Secret and Whisper, yet compared to the balls-in-a-vice squeals of most contemporaries (epitomized by Circa Survive's hysterical Anthony Green), he may as well be whispering sweetly. And even though his bandmates betray obvious post-hardcore influences in their songwriting, with the exception of the album's effects-laden introduction, "Blonde Monster," they reveal a far more disciplined classic rock education via muscular standouts like "You are Familiar," "XOXOXO," "Spider Besider" (plus, just a touch of metal, in the riffs and breakdowns of "Attacker"). Coincidentally, its precisely when they slacken the pace and intensity of their delivery that Secret and Whisper seem to flounder in the undertow (see the musically tentative "The Actress," "Looming Moon," and under-baked, electro-beat ballad "Werewolves"), but the closing title track bucks that trend, as it slowly travels from serenity to bombast. All in all, the end results are hardly revolutionary, but surprisingly consistent and entertaining for this over-abused genre of music. In more literary terms, one might say that, unlike Melville's mythical leviathan, the object of Secret and Whisper's obsession, when finally achieved, doesn't prove to be their ultimate demise.

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