Secret Society

Sad Boys Dance When No One Is Watching

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Although singer/songwriter Pepo Marquez is technically from Spain, Sad Boys Dance When No One Is Watching is really an album delivered from that magical place known as Bedroomland. Equal parts Bright Eyes, Sebadoh, and Clem Snide, the strummy, largely acoustic solo songs and mournful, shaggy full-band performances here are straight out of the lonely troubadour school of indie folk-emo: deep, close-mic vocals, plenty of overemphasized string and pick noise on the acoustic guitars (but a curious sense of low-in-the-mix distance on the electric parts), and lyrics uniformly about the perilous, freshly broken state of Marquez's heart. So there's little new or different about Sad Boys Dance When No One Is Watching, but as the subtly snarky title indicates, Marquez is a self-aware lyricist who knows how to undercut his self-pity with occasionally sly Morrissey-style jokes and a refreshingly non-poetic lyrical sense. If he were as melodically gifted, this would be a fully enjoyable record, but the stately pace and samey arrangements of these songs make things drag. However, the one cover, a Kiko Veneno setting of Federico Garcia Lorca's "La Leyenda del Tiempo," makes for a refreshing change.

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