The concept of “re-imagining” in music can carry the air of a lack of creativity and ideas. Miraculously, though, Secret Spac manage to do this right on ‘The Window Room, Pt 2: Lost in a Dream’, a retooled version of their debut, ‘The Window Room’.
On ‘Pt 2’, Secret Space’s somewhat generic soft emo-pop approach is swapped for a swirling, ethereal blend of strings, acoustic guitars and piano. The work done here suggests more than just an acoustic version of ‘The Window Room’ – songs have been completely reworked. For example, ‘I’ve Come Around’ is given some pop sheen, a spacey atmosphere, and stripped of much of its former angst; while ‘Cast Iron’ opts for a menacing subtlety where the original had explosive hooks.
These are essentially the same songs, but they’ve been changed and tweaked in order to better fit the dreamy, stripped back feel Secret Space attempt on ‘Pt 2’. It’s a notable shift in style if not a total departure from some of the softer elements of ‘The Window Room’. This departure pays off, with much of ‘Pt 2’ sounding more mature than what came before. For example, this version of ‘Suffer In’ gets rid of distorted guitars and drums, better highlighting and complementing the reserved, emotional vocal performance by Dean Tartaglia.
The new tracks show Secret Space fully embracing this style in their songwriting, with ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ embracing dream pop tropes and ‘Tread Softly’ channelling artists like Elliott Smith. The album also includes two covers – Weezer’s ‘Butterfly’ and The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Stumbleine’ – which Secret Space successfully record in a way that fits the tone of ‘Pt 2’ (although admittedly they are both, in their original forms, already stripped back acoustic songs).
With this album, Secret Space embark on a bold experiment which pays off more than most half-baked “re-imaginings” do. It’s not revolutionary, but it shows a band willing to play around with their existing sound in interesting ways.
‘The Window Room Pt 2: Lost in a Dream’ by Secret Space is released on 17th March on Equal Vision Records.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)