Strong early releases has set Secret Rivals up as one of Oxford’s most promising young bands and they’re latest single ‘Tonight Matthew’, is I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear, less a glamorous entrance from a smoke-filled doorway and more a dirty skirmish through a padlocked one.
Whilst maintaining a brash edge, ‘Tonight Matthew’ is an all together a more refined and sharper release than their previous output and builds on that early sound, which itself exuded enthusiasm and heaps of potential.
After a surprisingly pop-like melody hung out over a more typically spiky guitar line the song soon bursts to life with punky stabs and excellently arranged layering, topped with a second vocal delivery in the vein of Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke before he adopted a more melodic appraoch. Secret Rivals have always utilized this clashing double-vocals well but with ‘Tonight Matthew’ they have developed this technique further – vocal passages overlap and scuffle for your attention remaining just on the right side of controlled throughout.
Employing the sorts of delayed guitars preferred by the likes of The Dead Jerichos, ‘Tonight Matthew’ feels continually aware of its space and is executed brilliantly; though a lack of a distinguishable chorus may be off-putting to some listeners and does feel at odds with poppier, clean vocals. It is however,by no means an aimless song and a simple refrain of “There’s a trick to this!” carries sufficient weight.
It is often at this stage of a local band’s journey that they start to become really interesting and here Secret Rivals are becoming just that; developing a sound more of their own while still retaining a pleasing level of rough-around-the edge production that compliments their aggressive take on indie nicely.
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