Understanding Electricity

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Album Review: Official Secrets Act


Album Review: Official Secrets Act

Facts about this album:

* Official Secrets Act are Tom Burke (vocals/guitar), Michael Evans (guitar/synths), Lawrence Diamond (bass) and Alexander MacKenzie (drums).

* The band formed over a love of Television while studying in Leeds.

* ‘Understanding Electricity’ is their debut album.

Album review:

Skinny jeans and home security – never easy bedfellows. Named after a series of government legislations, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this north London four-piece spend their Thursday nights in front of Newsnight rather than down the local Roxy. However, like the Libs, OSA’s debut is imbued with a keen sense of Britishness – albeit Jeremy Paxman’s rather than William Blake’s. From spiky new wave pop indebted to XTC and Wire to references to dressing gowns, they couldn’t have nailed their red, white and blue colours to the mast more efficiently had they called themselves the Magna Carta and been done with it.

It’s no surprise, then, that they should have dedicated a song to our most venerable of institutions: ‘The Girl From The BBC’ is a sprightly Futureheads-via-Prefab Sprout paean to middle-class girls and holidays in Paris and Rome. ‘A Head For Herod’ recalls ‘Sing’-era Blur with its narcotised instrumentation and cooing harmonies. But, really, pop with guitars in 2009? Isn’t the future all good hair and Roland Juno-6 synthesizers?

Thankfully, they have a way with melody that transcends spreadsheet zeitgeist. Take ‘Victoria’, where a Cure bassline dovetails into Bacharach power chords as Thomas Burke’s voice rings with post-millennial neurosis: “At last my mind is made up, and never more will I betray you/We will have to tell the children something when they get back from school”.

While it shoots for the heart and lands squarely in the mainstream, The Wombats they aren’t. Sure, ‘…Electricity’ will have your average Shoreditch hipster recoiling at something as base as a tune, but for

the rest of us who actually like music, they’re easy to love, terrible name and all.

Louise Brailey

More on this artist:
Official Secrets Act NME Artist Page
Official Secrets Act MySpace