CD Review of Ten Silver Drops by The Secret Machines

Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Buy your copy from The Secret Machines:
Ten Silver Drops
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Reprise
Released: 2006
Buy from

The Secret Machines are at their best when they try to write approachable music, such as “Sad and Lonely” and “Nowhere Again,” which were the highlights of their last effort, Now Here Is Nowhere. This can be a tough task, especially considering their sound, which falls on the psychedelic fringes of the indie rock spectrum where approachable music isn’t exactly the norm. On their third album, Ten Silver Drops, the group modifies their instrumentals to make space for more vocals from Brandon Curtis, with admirable results.

At a running time of just under 45 minutes, the eight tracks are a little on the long side, but just like a couple of their influences – namely Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin –length isn’t a major issue. Their mission statement is clear: the songs are as long as they need to be. The first track, “Alone, Jealous and Stoned,” is probably the best song on the disc, but at a running time of almost seven minutes, it’s doubtful that it will get much airplay. It’s a shame, because without the minute and a half jam in the middle, the song just wouldn’t be the same.

Much like their contemporaries, the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, this is why the Secret Machines aren’t about radio airplay. Their ethereal, trippy soundscapes have garnered a lot of “stoner rock” descriptions and there are plenty of these “wall of sound” moments on Drops, such as the middle of the second track, “All at Once (It’s Not Important).” It’s another mostly accessible track, but it’s not really meant to be a single.

The back half of the disc isn’t as good as the first, with the cascading “I Hate Pretending” and the breathy “Faded Lines” being the only major highlights. The band can get lost in its own music at times and, despite Curtis’ emotional vocals, their slower tunes (“I Want to Know,” “1,000 Seconds”) just don’t resonate quite as well as the rest of their music. All in all, Drops is a solid effort – nothing more and nothing less.

~John Paulsen