Brad Hargett and NYC visual artist Nina Palucci makeup the duo Secret Rooms. They recently released a four-song self-titled EP Secret Rooms on Archipelago Records, which is a deliciously fun yet dark pop/dance experience. The songs utilize electronic drumbeats, various synths and more into a formidable canvas for both Hargett and Palucci to sing over. Hargett’s vocals are usually buried in the mix and covered in copious amounts of reverb. He often sounds like a mix between John Maus and Ian Curtis. In fact the music itself has similarities to John Maus. Palucci’s vocals are also usually covered in a thick hall reverb. Her stylistic differences contrast well with Hargett. Hargett has a monotone deadpan delivery while Palucci’s vocal style is more dynamic and expressive. It works well together and gives the songs added diversity.
The opener “Haunted Minds” starts with manipulated vocals laid down by Palucci. It quickly gets replaced by abrasive lead synths and an arpeggiated synth bass and electronic drumbeat. The groove is infectious, dark and brilliant to dance to. Hargett is in charge of vocal duties until about halfway through the song when Paucci enters. The way they decided to split up vocal duties wasn’t something you hear every day but felt was quite inventive.
“Velocity of Love” is slick on the verge of sultry. The delayed electronics and reverb tails create an atmosphere that would simply float away if it wasn’t for the bass and drums holding it down. Hargett and Palucci switch back and forth on vocal duties during the verse. Palucci sounds like a seductive temptress while Hargett is quite enjoyable as the Maus/Curtis hybrid.
The third track “Stars Apart” veers away from dark tendencies and replaces them with a poppy almost video game- esque like sound. The music is irresistibly catchy at times even though it was arguably the weakest link out of the four. “Secret Rooms” is an instrumental track and also the most experimental. The drums are heavily affected with manipulation while keys, bass and more create a rather simple but engaging array of sounds.
Secret Rooms has very little to feast on but it tastes darn good. The songs are inventive and keep you engaged throughout their duration. I’m very much looking forward to a full length from this promising new group.
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