The Secret Handshake – Summer of ’98

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

The Secret Handshake

Summer of ' 98 - Triple Crown Records

First of all, this thing needs a better font for its logo. I spent a few minutes looking at the cover of The Secret Handshake‘s EP, Summer of ‘ 98, and I could not tell that it said The Secret Handshake. I had to look at their bio to see it written in a readable font before I knew that. So right from the start my initial impressions on the EP were far from positive; and when I did listen to it, my impressions were never improved.

The release kicks off with the title track and right away you think of Hellogoodbye, but a cheap knock off version of the goofball band. Heavily distorted and an intense use of a vocoders, The Secret Handshake‘s first track is incredibly electronic, forced and way too digitalized to be entertaining. The song quickly becomes repetitive and the thought of listening to more isn’t a very enticing prospect; but luckily, Luis Dubuc (the real name of the person behind The Secret Handshake) does pick it up on the following two tracks.

Too Young and Don’t Call sees Dubuc lowering the electronic effects that bogged down the opener and you actually hear some decent pop melodies. The vocoder is only used during a few instances rather than the entire track like it was on Summer of ’98 and you’re left with a mix between Jack’s Mannequin,Sherwood, and Ronnie Day instead of a Hellogoodbye knock off. The use of a piano becomes much more prominent as Dubuc steps away from the gimmicky laptop effects and you hear some talent seeping through. Sadly, it all goes down from there as the remaining four tracks are simply remixes of the first two tracks on the EP.

Since I normally hold no real attraction for remixes because I think that they sound similar to the original, just some parts repeated or elongated, I had low hopes for the final half of the release which turned out to be accurate hopes since the four remixes on Summer of ’98 are the perfect example of remixes that I dislike. While there’s some interesting melodies and beats merged into the track, the songs tend to sound like the same track that I had a few minutes prior but stretched out to reach the five minute mark. Furthermore, the remixes always focus on the electronic portions of the songs – they were the weakest part of the original songs and fail to evolve past that in the remixes either.

So unless you’re a huge fan of the electronic sound, then The Secret Handshake‘s EP won’t be for you. It’s too gimmicky, too digitalized, and features too much use of the vocoder. Dubuc has a strong voice without; with it, you’re waiting for the song to end.