Walk Me Home
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
On their previous two albums, North Dakota-based pop band Secret Cities pursued a Brian Wilson-influenced wall-of-sound approach that ping-ponged between throwback and ultra-modern, murky and bright, endearingly sloppy and clear-cut. Where 2011 album Strange Hearts was a ramshackle collection of humid harmonies and kaleidoscopic grooves, Walk Me Home feels more deliberate, more soulful, more human. That’s probably because Charlie Gokey (NYC), Alex Abnos (NYC) and Marie Parker (Fargo) wrote and recorded their third album together in the studio for the first time. “Thumbs” and “Paradise” quake with melancholy energy, while “The Rooftop” and “Bad Trip” come bathed in Secret Cities’ trademark haze, letting their lucid melodies stand out. The inclusion of two haunting interludes – along with the majestic two-part suite “It’s Always Summer” and “It’s Always Winter” – make Walk Me Home feel like the coherent creative statement this band didn’t discover until now. Their leisurely pace might deter some, but Secret Cities are making some of the most resplendent chamber pop out right now.