t takes approximately 1/5 of September 000’s running time for the first song to launch into the proper verse chorus structure that most pop fans are accustomed to. This five minute warm-up consists of a piano melody that, through its chord structure, builds and builds to the inevitable climax of drums, vocals, and piano. The voice is plaintive yet rebellious, “And Heaven’s just a calming glow”. The voice is soon accompanied by background “ooohs” and “aaaahs”, which add weight to the searching tone of the song. The narrator, by the end of the song, has lost his accompanying instruments- only the guitar and piano remain to prop up his declarations, “You get scared/and I get angry”...”But if emptiness is all we’ve got”. As the instrumentation becomes more sparse it becomes clearer that Brandon Davis’ lyrics and delivery are more borne of fear, rather than being confident declarations of purpose. This is an artist vacillating between clarity of purpose and the uncertainty of its reception by others.
The first and second songs, taking up almost half of the record, amble along combining a post rock touch to the emerging pop songs beneath. It is the fact that good songwriting lies ever beneath the surface of these garnishings that elevates September 000 to a level above more recent experimental leaning pop records, such as the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi.... The more conventional three minute pop numbers that are contained within the longer bookends of two songs entitled “Marconi’s Radio”, strip away all posturing and deliver the rock.
“Breath” takes a two counterpoint guitar melodies allowing them to fight for supremacy until a mirroring bassline enters into the fray to add stability. The song, by the entrance of the now ubiquitous “ooohs”, has become jaunty romp of a song barreling to its abrupt conclusion.
The album falters near the end with “Still See You” and “It’s A Bad Wind That Don’t Blow So” instilling a sense of melancholy and general sluggishness to the proceedings. The two songs are capable, but perhaps don’t match up to the general brilliance of the previous offerings of the band.
The second version of “Marconi’s Radio”, however, closes the album on a high note with an upbeat rendering of the same chords that characterized the opener. Acting almost as a reprise for the entire album, the song ends the album nicely and, more importantly, leaves the listener wanting more.
This is the key to September 000. Clocking in at 28 minutes, many of which are used in soundscapes and mood setting, the Secret Machines leave the listener in the lurch, desiring a full length offering. Here's hoping that it'll come soon.