by Wheaton Hop
That’s what this is. I mean, it has to be, right? That’s the only explanation that comes to mind when grappling with the riddle of the beauty and the beast that is Land-OVER, the full length debut from Bad Secret. Much like the EP’s, Demo-ONE and Vinyl-ONE (that stand as prologue to this masterpiece of storytelling), Land-OVER delivers one of if not THE most visually stunning, sonically borderless, and viscerally engaging albums of the year.
Chapter and verse, the Bad Secret trio once again takes us into a landscape that completely envelops us in a tapestry woven by wizardry. Not even kidding. It wields masterful mechanics that stretch beyond music, beyond poetry, and into a cinematic realm that pulls you in and keeps you there through the very last note. It blends and crosses genres and mediums (just close your eyes and listen) without hesitation while molding it all into a unique, unforgettable experience of a release. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and it fucking rocks!
Beginning with The Introduction, our senses are lured in by lush instrumentation replete with piano, cello (I believe?), a narrator, sound effects, and a sigh that is so piercing and poignant that it either speaks to final resignation, the pang of nostalgic regret, or acceptance. Or all of the above. It’s the perfect beginning to this voyage we have just embarked on and Beau, Johnny, and Metal Don are just the captains you want steering the ship. They put us under their spell with a gentle nudge in The Introduction and then… boom. It all kicks off. And we haven’t even gotten to the second track yet. Rosen’s Ltd., Annual Christmas Wishbook marches in with plucky guitars, a full and rich rhythm section that you can actually feel to your bones, and goodgawddamn…. Beau’s lyrical prowess is unstoppable. The way Beau effortlessly blends whimsy and depth, I’m convinced this man can bend time and space. You would be hard pressed to find a writer as intelligent, eloquent, and thoughtful. He is capable of leading you into the story and leaving you there to linger, gratefully, in the familiar and the not yet known; bringing words into action with the sage wisdom of an old soul and an unbridled punk rock spirit.
Now. The 3rd track of the album and first single to be released, Magic Kingdom For Sale – Sold!, absolutely rips. The obvious emotion and honesty elicited in Beau’s words sear as sharply as Metal Don’s guitars. This track wails into your headspace and your little rock and roll heart with gusto and then slowly fades with Johnny at the piano guiding us out with a supple softness that matches the raw sentimentality of the lyrics. And that is precisely the magic that is Bad Secret. They weave a compelling and mystical story that feels so real, it’s palpable. Magic Kingdom For Sale – Sold! is pristine and downright powerful, simultaneously endearing and kickass. Frigging sorcery, I tell you. The breaks and changes within each song on this album are perfectly constructed, not just on an instrumental level but as if they are an atmospheric device noting the turning of a page, the closing of one chapter seamlessly flowing into the opening of a new one. The musicianship is on point and traverses the sonic landscape with impressive, fervent precision.
Bringing the tempo down to slow jam territory, is the contemplative The Artist of Chicago. Artist, to me, is an intriguing glimpse into an awakening yet resolute self awareness and a strengthening fortitude. It’s a perfect lead-in to Sayonara (Yellow Brick Road) which closes out the Awake Side with a great Riverdales-esque guitar intro, thumping bass, and the driving energy of crisp, pounding drums. It also appears the hero of our story has reached a decisive conclusion himself. There’s a strength in arming oneself with the realization and resolve for what steps need to be taken in the soundscape that is the Sleep Side.
The Sentence Left Unfinished… opens the second half of Land-OVER with a brief and charming prettiness only to dive hard into more punk rock, balls to the wall ferocity. Rightful Heir (Landover) and The Coronation, with Beau’s soaring vocals and the screaming guitars, are absolutely anthemic and bombastic. Thematically, it appears that the battle has been fought, the mountain has been conquered, and it’s time to reap the reward in The Lake Country of Elderew. But, wait. What’s this? You mean we haven’t yet witnessed triumph? There’s more to the story?
Of course there is.
The Long Journey Home, the final track, brings us full circle and back to where it all began. Was this all a dream? Another dimension of reality? Are those even 2 separate realms? This entire journey, this 30 minute epoch, is truly captivating on so many levels. You really need to do yourself a favor and get lost in the adventure yourself. It kept me hooked from start to finish with Beau’s brilliantly adept, descriptive storytelling and the powerful punk rock energy backing him up. I am in awe at how cleverly well crafted this album is. It is an absolute banging trip. The skillfulness with which they somehow managed to tease at every sensory receptor is mind boggling and impressive. It’s as if I not only heard it but I could feel it. I could see it play out. It is a truly immersive experience; like opening the door to the wardrobe and stepping into another world. Another world you’d gladly explore again and again and again. And all you need to take with you is a thirst for a damn good, catchy as hell punk rock escape. You’ll find it there.
And because I could never express the importance of this album as well as the mastermind, the wizard himself…. In Beau’s words: “Each song top to bottom, with each Bad Secret release, is an entire chronological story that culminates with this full length. It’s the best record I’ve ever been a part of. It’s my “Blood On The Tracks.” My “Earthbound For The Holiday.” My “Bivouac.” My “Various Positions.” I laid it all on the line. Said everything I needed, should have before, and always wanted to say. Now it’s in the wind forever. As it should be. I would greatly appreciate your support.”
Don’t miss out. You can start your trek by heading over to Hey Pizza Records, I Buy Records and Bandcamp as it won’t be available on other streaming platforms. That’s punk as fuck and I’m here for it.
Wheaton Hop Out