We Need Secrets

Melancholy and the Archive

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From its name to its sound, We Need Secrets is steeped in nostalgia: Kestrels' Chad Peck took the name of a Pavement song for the project's moniker and pays homage to the scruffier side of shoegaze (Swirlies, Eric's Trip, Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine) in his songs. It's fitting, then, that Melancholy and the Archive offers a more self-reflexive take on the dream pop revival that, by the time of the album's release, had lasted longer than the original movement did. Peck borrowed the name of his friend Jonathan Boulter's examination of trauma, memory, and history in contemporary fiction for his debut album's title, and name-checks author Paul Auster (one of the subjects of Boulter's book) in one of its most jagged, abstract songs. Melancholy and the Archive's expressions of memories, how we hold them, and how they define us are most clearly expressed in the music; Peck's vocals are often buried under a mountain of feedback and distortion, for proper shoegaze effect. Not surprisingly, the songs that make up the album's title are among the highlights. "Melancholy"'s irresistible fizz and fuzz fulfill the classic pop aim of turning sadness into joy, while "The Archive" is a fine example of the heavy, looming sound perfected by bands like Lilys back in the day. Indeed, the album often feels like a sampler of shoegaze's different facets, spanning the tremolo-happy "How You Remember" to the gliding "Cycles" to the pedal-stomping noise-fest of "Pain Lines." Sometimes Peck's mastery of these sounds is more convincing than his songwriting, but Melancholy and the Archive's balance of cerebral ambition and heart offers a lot for fans of dream pop from the '80s, '90s, and onward.

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