Started by MJ Parker and Charlie Gokey at the tender age of 15, Secret Cities grew out of a shared love of psychedelic pop and a pen-pal arrangement that saw the pair trading 4-track tapes through the mail. The band eventually expanded to a trio with the addition of fellow Midwesterner and kindred spirit Alex Abnos on drums. After a few small releases on Baltimore’s Fall Records, the band released its proper full length debut (the well-received Pink Graffiti) in 2010 on Western Vinyl. Following a nationwide tour in support of that release, the band spent several intense months writing and recording new material, re-imagining their sound as a fractured take on classic AM radio pop. Strange Hearts, the resulting album, was released in March 2011 on Western Vinyl.
Our favorite new group...any group that records their sophomore album in a deserted bank- and makes their low-fi, psychedelic pop melodies still sound really good- deserves some serious props.
...it went round and round in my head for more than a few weeks, and kept me humming and hooked.
Magnificent...I've rarely heard an album that wields so many weapons — not effortlessly, but with such painstaking mastery that it's almost arduous not to be won over... 4/5
...big, smiling melodies are given just the right amount of haunting melancholy with the vocal harmonies, ending up with something both bright and dark, both uplifting and downtrodden.
To say that listening to a particular record is “an experience” has become cliché, admittedly. But we can’t think of a more fitting way to describe what Secret Cities has done on Pink Graffiti. With every listen, you discover a new element that further invests you in the trippy world the band creates through their mix of psychedelic rock and Baroque-pop… #9 album of the year.
For a three-piece, Secret Cities lay down a whole lot of noise, but never to the point of sounding overstuffed, and they’re also lucky enough to have two top-tier vocalists. As an album, Pink Graffiti is a little schizophrenic, but it’s a rousing handful of songs... 8.0
...a fractured piece of music made from just about every possible sound under the sun, probably not too far off from what [Brian] Wilson’s been attempting for his entire career.
...intimate and immediately likable...It gets better and better the more you listen to it.