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STEREO EMBERS PREVIEW – ‘I Think It’s Light Outside’ from Secret Machines from the At-Last Appearance of Fabled Fourth LP “The Moth, The Lizard and the Secret Machines”

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Back at the turn of this doomed but beautiful century there came a (rather unexpected, in some ways) burst of bands that took the more energetic aspects of 90s indie from both sides of the Atlantic – grunge, Britpop, whatever that amazing thing was that Th’ Faith Healers practiced – and hurled it at a post-punk revival that, while shinier in most respects than the original era’s somewhat more solemn practitioners and certainly brasher, nonetheless shook us out of our post-millennial torpor and helped us believe in, well, something again. While Interpol grabbed the early headlines in 2002 with the take-no-prisoners shimmer of their appropriately titled debut Turn on the Bright Lights, by our, umm, lights, that particular wave hit its crest when Secret Machines came roaring out the gate – astutely mind, the arrangements as daring as they were compelling – with 2004’s debut Now Here is Nowhere. Originally a 3-piece  from the then-fervid Dallas scene (brothers Brandon and Benjamin Curtis, bass/vocals and guitar/backing vox respectively, Josh Garza drums), the band made it through a couple more LPs (Ten Silver Drops in 2005 then a self-titled effort in 2008) while negotiating the not unusual stresses of band life – Ben’s departure in 2007 to focus of School of Seven Bells, for one – before announcing, then more or less scuttling, a fourth album to be called The Moth, The Lizard and the Secret Machines and going quiet for close to a decade even as that fourth album slowly gained the mystique of legend. While it wasn’t solely the lurking ‘what if’ of that left-to-languish album that has brought the Secret Machines back into the light – a Twitter post of Brandon and Josh in the studio working on drum tracks surfaced in 2018 and full-length Awake in the Brain Chamber made it unquestionably official in mid-2020 – there’s little question that that record’s overshadowing presence haunted the back of the band’s mind as much as it did their fans and today, March 24, 2023, with a kind of momentous satisfaction that seldom materializes in our too-cynical too-chaotic world, the now-fully finished version arrives and we’re very pleased to present the first single “I Think It’s Light Outside,” a remarkable slice of epic pop awash in a masterfully psychedelic haze. It’s easy to hear and understand just from this one example why the prospect of this album wouldn’t even dream of leaving the band in peace until it saw the radiant light of day. Innovative, not a little adventurous, the whole of the album reflects a band that hasn’t only fully recovered their very adept mojo but done so with a surge of engaging confidence and élan. It’s an impression seconded by this exclusive quote from Josh Garza, to whom we give the final word. Meanwhile, we’re comfortable saying that  The Moth, The Lizard and the Secret Machines will end this year buzzing near the top of many best-of-2023 lists. [purchase link below]

“At times, it feels like it’s two or three different ideas playing at the same time to form one song. The concept of improvisation, experimentation and song being fused together with Brandon’s lyrics and vocals keeping the song from flying off the edge.”

[pick up The Moth, The Lizard and the Secret Machines from TSM Recordings here]