Enveloped in an uneasy haze of steel guitar, Brass Bed tells us, “I never believed it was true/ That life was just something to do” until the day “that death follows through.” It’s not exactly a pep talk in “Cold Chicory,” the opening track on the band’s third album “The Secret Will Keep You.” It’s more a case of accepting life’s letdowns as part of the big picture, a theme that naturally fits a maturing band coming to terms with its career, and, likely, the band members’ lives themselves.
“The Secret Will Keep You” is the Louisiana band’s multifaceted study of confronting the uncertainty of adulthood with trepidation but also a certain measure of resigned confidence. The themes are well-matched with a musical canvas that draws from the bounce of The Kinks and The Beatles as well as the quirkier end of the modern-folk rock spectrum occupied by groups like Floating Action, Dr. Dog and Wilco.
The power pop of “Please Don’t Go” follows the relatively downcast opener, recalling a slightly more polished Dr. Dog thanks to stomping rhythms and swirling organ, while “I’ll Be There With Bells On” is a straightforward slice of driving rock. “A Bullet For You,” with its ramshackle guitar and staggered rhythms, might remind some listeners of Spoon, and is one of the record’s more inviting tracks. That said, the unease factor is still high, both in the minor-key melodies and the lyrics: “Wasted all my years, thinking good would come from a dream/ Now I’m waking, my world is shaking/ Could I walk away?/ If I stop, would I still be me?”
The title track is lush pop, with wistful, beat-less verses and energetic choruses, all clanging guitars and tom-toms. It’s a dark moment that certainly fits the identity of the album, with maudlin lyrics like, “You told me, you would never fall in love again/ That came true, the day they found you hanging by the telephone.”
“How To Live In A Bad Dream” is another fun, uptempo, power-pop tune, “I Guess I’ll Just Sing” displays Brass Bed’s penchant for combing amorphousness and solid structures, and “Suspension Of Vision” laments not being able to see one’s future through a “shadow of doubt.”
“The Secret Will Keep You” closes with “Have To Be Fine,” which flows from a chorale of voices over nearly funereal organ. “I guess I’ll be fine,” Brass Bed sings, but then, more realistically, “have to be fine.”