The Secret Handshake: Summer of 98 EP

[2 July 2007]

By Evan Sawdey

PopMatters Interviews Editor

Pop music has the weirdest microcosms. From indie children’s music to electro-emo, there’s no end to the way pop music can mix-and-match. When it comes to electro-emo, however, you’re looking right at The Secret Handshake (aka Luis Dubuc), taking even less of a full-band approach than Hellogoodbye did when they turned big. The Summer of ‘98 is high on melodrama, but also huge on melody. The ballad “Don’t Call” runs familiar lyrical ground, but the hook sounds like Elton John followed his Rocket Man into the 21st century, reappearing with shiny synths and a case of the MySpace blues. The vaguely autobiographical title track hints at wanting to grow up but knowing that the narrator isn’t exactly ready yet. A simple sentiment that sounds even better over a fantastic electro-pop hook. The drum-happy “Too Young” gets two excellent remix treatments on the EP: once by Dillinger Escape Plan (who re-envisions it as a Postal Service B-side) and again by Toxic Avengers (who keep throwing keyboards at it until it feels like it’s going to explode—a good feeling). The P.O.S and Spank Rock remixes of the “Summer of ‘98” are merely passable, but they’re only a footnote to the Handshake’s potential as a whole. In preparation for his full-length, the Hellogoodbye comparisons will be inevitable, but if Dubuc can rise above and beyond, then we might just have the new face of electro-emo right here: a microcosm that’s amazingly fun.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/the-secret-handshake-summer-of-98-ep/