Secret Colours – Dream Dream

Secret Colours – Dream Dream

Finding what I needed to know about the creators of Dream Dream began ordinarily enough. Their band website has much in the way of media and photography, and a discography revealed that Dream Dream is in fact the fourth Secret Colours full-length release. Then the band statement which had much to say regarding Secret Colours’ influences, a Chicago band dedicated to emulating the sounds of 1990s Britpop and other psych-pop standards, naming The Stone Roses and The Black Angels as key groups in their own musical development, and one or two other reviews of the album that had other writers getting enthusiastic over Secret Colours reverence for all things Mod-related and garage punk inspired, right down to their anglicised spelling of the word ‘color’.

Just one thing appeared to be missing though. Secret Colour’s music is given an added depth and dimensionality by their utilisation of one or more keyboards, classic farfisa organ, tingling harpsichord and full-blown Dr Phibes level apocalyptic cathedral of sound overdriven arpeggios. These boost the already fulsome Secret Colour sound from good-up-to-verging-upon-actually-great, but there is an important omission in the band info I could find. Only four of the band members are named; guitarists Tommy Evans and Mike Novak, bassist Max Brink and drummer Matt Yeates. The name of their keyboard player (and band pictures do feature five individuals) is for some reason not given to us, as if it were an actual secret.

Some more in-depth research followed and, sure enough, the name Maxx McGathey appears on a less well-known website, credited as band keyboardist. I cannot speculate as to why his name isn’t appearing in much of Secret Colour’s current publicity and his contribution to Dream Dream is a significant one, doing much to bolster the retro-influenced 21st century mod sound that Secret Colours are aiming to create, although listening to the album it seems that whether they’ve succeeded in this is only part of what Dream Dream is really about. At various moments, it’s possible to hear the influence of (among others) Blur, The Style Council, The Teardrop Explodes, Kasabian, with Secret Colours being the sort of band that are never happier than when they’re reconfiguring favourite tracks from their assorted record collections. The Chicago five-piece have done this sufficiently well to a point where, had they been a UK band and released Secret Colours fifteen years or so previously, they would have undoubtedly made a significant impression on the music world of the time, featuring on festival billings, making notable television appearances, selling large amounts of vinyl and continually turning up on today’s oldie radio stations.

As it is, Secret Colours might never completely emulate the successes of those bands that have influenced them, but they’ve made a feelgood summery power-pop album that more or less anyone hearing it will appreciate at least one track from.