If Brass Bed had released The Secret Will Keep You around the time “New Slang” was proclaimed the song that would change your life, they’d have been guaranteed to change a few lives of their own. Who knows? They still could.
Good songs never go out of style, and the Louisiana quartet have put together a collection of delectable pop nosh with enough ear candy to seep its way into the pleasure center of even the most finicky listeners. On the band’s third LP, Brass Bed takes 40 years of pop music and crams it into a taut 40 minutes. There’s nary a dud, and all sorts of surprises await around every corner.
There are plenty of layers to parse through, but at its heart The Secret Will Keep You is a rip-roaring rock record. The basic tracks were recorded live over 10 days in Austin with producer Danny Reisch, and the immediacy and humanity drip through even the tinniest speakers. Opener “Cold Chicory” eases in before the bright and strummy guitars cut through, before finally going out with a wonderfully noisy and lurching solo. “How to Live In a Bad Dream” is a full-on power pop number whose sunny disposition is slightly dampened by the refrain “please don’t leave me.”
You get a lot of that on The Secret—lyrics that deal in death, loneliness and love gone wrong, set to a summer-barbecue soundtrack. But even the music itself can be deceptive. “Back and Forth” is a chirpy and unassuming pop song that dissolves into an epic and noisy middle section with the repeated line “Can I be myself around you?” “A Bullet For You” also pits breeziness and noisiness against one another. It’s both awkward and comfortable.
A good hook is usually enough to keep you coming back for more. But Brass Bed has deftly taken the saccharine-sweet of ’60s and ’70s pop and given it a noisy makeover. The Secret Will Keep You’s underlying theme of disappointment is anything but. And if Brass Bed keeps their songs sunny and dark and familiar and weird, they could be sharing their disillusionment for the next generation.