The Secret Society Sad Boys Dance When No One’s Watching

[Acuarela; 2006]

Styles: singer / Songwriter, folk
Others: Bonnie Prince Billy, Elliott Smith, Eef Barzelay

The Secret Society is the nom de disque of Spain's Pepo Marquez. Sad Boys Dance When No One's Watching is his debut album, which, frankly, bores me. Marquez has played as opening act for a number of big names including Xiu Xiu, Songs: Ohia, and Magnolia Electric Co., but he fails to establish a distinctive musical identity here that would appropriately propel him to a headlining slot. His influences include hardcore and emo; this is most clearly reflected in his lyrics, which are dry and a bit generic, despite attempts to reflect a variety of states of emotional angusih / political injustice. Marquez sings them in a quiet, disaffected baritone, supporting them with an acoustic guitar and occasional drums. The deadpan take on lyrical / musical material that is usually levied with overwrought angst could be an interesting strategy, but Marquez' delivery lacks verve and ends up sounding tired and petulant, even holier than thou in places. This is doubly off-putting on songs that stagnate in what are perhaps attempts at a hypnotic minimalism. I think Marquez has sketched a persona worth developing, and his hardcore-cum-acoustic guitar playing provides pleasant surprises at some moments, but the fleeting interest these elements generate is not enough to keep me engaged from start to finish.

1. Moving Units
2. Night Makes Things Look Bigger
3. Fight Fire With Fire
4. Man vs Machine
5. Sad Boys Dance
6. De Costa A Costa
7. Passenger
8. My Relationship With Above
9. La Leyenda Del Tiempo
10. City Lights
11. City Lights II
12. Old Wood Creaking Floor

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