Modern funk aimed to inspire
High school friends Dan Rocco and Gerry Lange come together as bandmates to form Secret Weapons. After releasing their self-titled EP in 2016, the pair supported pop and alternative acts like Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Lukas Graham. Now they’ve released their debut studio album, As The Setting Sun Comes Crashing Down On Me, with a message of hope.
In an interview with Dujour, the duo discussed how music today feels hopeless and how they aim to change that. Lange said the band’s message is, “You are your own secret weapon. If you dig deep enough, you can be the hero of your story.” On the surface, the album is upbeat, modern funk; but ironically, the two leading singles are either mellow in production or shying away from the album’s theme. “Just a ghost inside a shell / I know you so well,” Lange sings over a sax loop. “We do have songs that deal with sadder subject matters, but we present it differently,” Rocco said in the interview. “Ghost” is a prime example of this. The subject matter is covered up by the dance-worthy production. The band flips this equation inside out for “Comeback Season.” The overall message is positive; “I’m still gonna rise up, even if I fall / I’ll prove ‘em wrong baby,” but the anthem drags on to the rhythm of a slow clap.
They bring back the funk for “POWER,” which is a work of diversity. At the start, listeners may think they’re about to hear Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.” Then the finger-snapping and electronics borrow from EDM to pick up the pace, but instead of the signature drop, we hear female backup singers like a gospel choir to sing the title with enthusiasm. They use “oh” as a propeller on “My Blue Heaven,” similar to its use on Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” The song has an epic build throughout, using synths to reach alarming high notes as the lyrical speed moves quicker and quicker.
“Betty You Gone Wrong (Midnight Song)” comes in two parts. The first has a Michael Jackson swagger to jazz up the album. However, part two acts as an unnecessary interlude. Part one has a clear, sharp ending, which would normally be fine, but with a mimicking interlude following, a blend between the two parts would have done the album justice. We learn the LP’s namesake on the final song, “Fire Burning.” The finale borrows the funk, sliding synths and inspiration from earlier tracks to come full circle. “There’s fire burning, there’s pain in my desire / keeps rising up, gonna make it to my feet / there’s hunger yearning, but I think sometimes it’s tearing me up / as the setting sun comes crashing down on me.”
Secret Weapons’ contemporary take on funk separates them from similar alt-pop acts such as Junior Prom or Bleachers. While it’s too early for a comeback, the duo has put out a well-composed debut. Hopefully, new singles better fit to sell their story are released before the pair set out on tour in September.