I got my first listen to the new Secret Machines album this week, something I have been anxiously awaiting since I first heard news of it a few months ago. Getting a chance to see the band perform at Stubb's intensified that desire tremendously, as they sounded even better than I remembered. Even though one of the Machines' founding members (Ben Curtis) has chosen to focus on other things, the ex-Tripping Daisy guitarist Phil Karnats is the perfect replacement, both live and in the studio.
On their third studio album, out on 10/14 in collaboration with World’s Fair Label Group, the trio operates in a slightly less "spacey" territory in exchange for a slightly heavier, more straight-forward approach. The differences are subtle, likely due to natural progression as much as a lineup change. The first single "Atomic Heels" gets the point across quickly, with a pulsating guitar/drum beat that sounds like it is made up of equal pieces of the first two albums. Their expansive nature is still present, "Have I Run Out" nearly hits the 8-minute mark, and album closer "The Fire Is Waiting" tops 11 minutes. The track that has stuck with me the most is the slow-building "Now You're Gone," full of swirling noise, a memorable hook, and some great guitar action around the four minute mark.
While the Secret Machines self-titled album isn't quite a world-beater, it is definitely another solid notch on their headboard, and any fan of their previous efforts will be pleased with what they hear. This is still a band that is best appreciated in a live setting, so check out their tour dates to see when these old Dallas natives will be in your vicinity. For more info on the new album, hit up World's Fair. To hear "Atomic Heels" visit Spin.