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The Secret Handshake

One Full Year

(Triple Crown; US: 25 Sep 2007; UK: Available as import)

When the Secret Handshake (Luis Dubuc) released his Summer of ‘98 EP at the beginning of the year, he was hopping a ride on the electro-emo bandwagon that was being spearheaded by HelloGoodbye (and, to a lesser extent, Blaqk Audio). With his voice T-Pained to infinity and back, Luis was able to craft thrilling, propulsive songs like “Summer of ‘98” and the remarkable ballad “Don’t Call”. Yet for One Full Year, his full-length debut, Dubuc feels surprisingly limited with his music. “Make You Mine” feels like the whitest Pharrell impression ever recorded (which, in this case, is not a good thing), and “Costal Cities” relies on its self-imposed sense of melodrama just a bit too much. It’s something of a shame that Dubuc repeats so many ideas, as there are still some sparks left in his system: “Wanted You” is heartbreak set to a dancebeat, and the wild, fiery-guitar work on album highlight “Gamegirl” might be one of the 2007’s most thrilling electro-pop moments. Unfortunately, these songs alone do not a solid album make. Dubuc faces a big creative hurdle in plotting his next move, but if he plays his finely-tuned sensibilities just right, then we just might have an electronic revival on our hands. Your move, Luis.


Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album, and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.

The Secret Handshake - Costal Cities
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