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Secrets of the Sea (Talking House Records)

Wednesday, Oct 8 2008

Waiting three years between albums can be suicide for an upstart band, particularly when new artists are being churned out faster than rabbits reproduce. But Loquat's sophomore release, Secrets of the Sea, is proof to ADD-afflicted music lovers that good things do sometimes come to those who wait.

Over the last three years, the members of the Bay Area quintet have checked romance, heartbreak, birth, and loss off their collective to-do list. A sturdy collection of electronic-kissed guitar-pop, Secrets is stained with mascara-tracked tears of ecstasy and anguish related to these milestones. The opening track, "Harder Hit," captures that emotional push-and-pull with lyrics that sting, yet still offer hope ("Nothing's won so easily/ Even if it hurts and trying seems to make it worse/Have faith it will be over soon"). Singer Kylee Swenson's tuneful whispers provide a warm blanket around the cold shoulders of anyone for whom relationships have proven disappointing. "Sit Sideways," a disco-y number about finding your sea legs in love, and "Comedown's Worse," a beat-driven rock gem about having the wind knocked out of your romantic sails, afford listeners the opportunity to dance off their frustrations. The songs are perfect examples of how Loquat, with the help of co-producers the Rondo Brothers, smoothes away the weepy edges with a daydreamy vibe that's like musical Xanax. But Secrets of the Sea isn't entirely smooth sailing. Loquat sets the bar high, and songs like "Who Can Even Remember?" and "Clearly Now" lack the power of their album siblings. But even the disc's weakest moments still strike a nerve.

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