Secret Machines Ten Silver Drops

After coming out of nowhere with 2002’s excellent interstellar Kraut/space rock meltdown September 000, Secret Machines signed to a major and broke out the kick drum to an extent that made the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd appear to be a lightweight in the toes. Act three finds them without Josh Garza’s overwhelming thump — an ingredient that I felt gave them such great character. Instead, the drummer has toned down the bass and brought in an assortment of his talents that are on full display in the last 90 seconds of "I Hate Pretending.” Still the band have yet to write a hook that will elevate their worth — an obvious setback — instead turning a hard left every time the melodies appear to go somewhere. Single "Lightning Blue Eyes” is case in point, finding tangent after tangent instead of a simple hook. "Alone, Jealous and Stoned” is a real highlight though, opening the album with a robust example of their emo potential and finding their inner J. Spaceman with glimmering guitars and a powerful breakdown. "I Want To Know” is another heartstring tugger, with enough bluesy compassion to get them an invite to perform at a Mississippi church. In the end though there isn’t enough to Ten Silver Drops to seduce you. If anything they’ve regressed, and for a band verging on prog rock that’s a bad thing. It’s too early to write them off, but the lacking lustre that coats Ten Silver Drops leads to believe this Texas trio’s stock is dropping. (Reprise)