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Music Review: Secret Circus – This Is Secret Circus

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I was honored to be one of the very first people to receive a copy of This Is Secret Circus. Little did I know that lurking beneath the surface of these most refreshing songs was something far more sinister.

Having been unable to stop playing the album since I first heard it, I am convinced that there are subliminal messages hidden within its compulsive charm. Logging on to the band’s Myspace page reveals the shocking truth. Half way down the screen the same messages that have been planted deeply within my mind are there for all to see:

“Secret Circus will soon rule the world.” “Secret Circus is the greatest band of all time.” “You love Secret Circus.”

Even the cover of the album proclaims them to be the “greatest band ever.” You just can’t escape it, but strangely you don’t want to either. As I reach to play the album yet again, I realize I am helplessly entwined within their web.

Secret Circus are talented twins Joel and Klas Aahman. Their plan to rule the world sees Joel resident in Sweden, while brother Klas occupies Roswell in New Mexico. The first step to world domination has been taken with the release of their debut album This Is Secret Circus.

It is available on quaint old CD and, of course, new fangled download. If you choose the latter, make sure that you don’t miss the excellent artwork which lures you into the circus tent like some twisted ringmaster.

Once inside, the “Intro”, a slightly deranged version of “Entry Of The Gladiators” by Julius Fucik, evokes all sorts of childhood memories of the circus tent pitching up on the village green. Their songwriting is refreshingly simple, and yet just below the surface are some powerfully thought provoking lyrics. The style is an intoxicating and delicate blend of gypsy spirit, folk, rock, pop, and gentle blues.

At times they sound familiar.  Yet conversely, they remain innovative at the same time. It’s a heady mix and demands your attention throughout. At first it can appear light and almost breezy. But when you get inside the album, and it gets inside you, there are those messages lurking darkly within.

“Nothing,” a muddy sounding rock tempo track, leads us towards the cynical “Our Bastard Child.” This, along with the easy harmonies of “Lie To Me” and the hook riddled “Some Day” underline the duo’s songwriting strengths perfectly.

The subtle smoothness of “It’s Not For Love” has the faintest splash of soul hidden within its textures. “Amsterdam” is a real life account of a fateful visit to the sin city of Europe. “When The Monsters Come Out” stretches beyond its three minute predecessors with a cleverly building song that ends with an impressive guitar solo.

“Earth Above, Sky Below” is an absolute gem amongst gems. It was apparently recorded in a thunder storm. You can’t hear the storm but, weirdly, you can feel its ominous presence. Wasn't it The Grateful Dead that wanted to record thick air? Well this is very close indeed. It’s delicate and yet oddly oppressive.

Next up is the powerful “Diary Of A Stalker.” This is a disturbing look into the mind of a dangerous obsessive. The lyrics are chilling and you can almost visualize the man peering through the girl’s private window. You feel like you are watching the watcher. “All In” is another highly satisfying song that leads to “Beginning Of The End,” a track that basks in the spirit of Dire Straits.

This Is Secret Circus ends with the gentle blues of “New Orleans” which, if you obey those subliminal messages and keep the album running, reveals a hidden track, “Outside Looking In.” The secret is well and truly out. There is a smooth natural flow to their songwriting, that gets under your skin in an easy subtle way ensuring that the word will spread quickly.

Secret Circus may not rule the world just yet, but they have certainly invaded this house.

Follow the links above to enter the world of the Secret Circus and to hear some of those samples.

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About Jeff Perkins

  • J

    That’s a great review! Funny stuff!