The Cold Coast by Montreal synthpop group Secret Sun is the musical collaboration of Simon Landry and Anne-Marie Campbell. Landry and Campbell have produced a rather impressive collection of songs for their debut release. The LP contains 10 tracks that can be easily digested as a complete work, a somewhat rare commodity in the hit-driven iTunes marketplace, where music is consumed more on the merit of single songs.
Many of the compositions on The Cold Coast sound dreamy and ephemeral in a similar style to the Baltimore band Beach House. Despite the other obvious similarity of the guy/girl dynamic, Secret Sun cannot be accused of mere emulation of their forebears. The duo mines deeply from the caverns of ’80s pop music and emerges with some true modern gems such as ‘City’, ‘Passing Cars’, and the title track, ‘The Cold Coast’.
Although many of the songs are crafted with an ’80s pop sensibility, Landry and Campbell are not afraid to experiment with different styles and unorthodox sounds in their songwriting and production. The album is filled with exciting and unexpected elements like the choppy break beat in the song ‘Stay Still’, or the runaway keyboard solo at the end of ‘Can’t You See’.
Landry and Campbell do an excellent job of musically experimenting in subtle ways, and pushing boundaries without sacrificing the accessibility of their music for the soon-to-be-converted fan. Arguably the most experimental piece in this collection is ‘Don’t Behave’: a song anchored by a heavy, pulsating synth line that makes you feel like the Terminator is chasing you down a darkened alley. Coupled with heavily processed vocals in the intro, this song has a darker and less polished sound than the rest of the album. Although even this darker composition is supported by a chorus that has enough melodic and instrumental beauty to draw the listener to engage deeper with the song.
Aside from the few exceptions that have more traditional instrumentation, the album is filled with synth infused songs that seem to float effortlessly in the sonic landscape. The vocal melodies and musical compositions are not laboured or cluttered, but rather controlled and refreshingly simple. Secret Sun weaves together musical and lyrical elements with the mastery of artists that have become intimate and comfortable with their material. This debut work is fresh, and has the sound of a band that is just beginning to tap it’s potential.
The Cold Coast is available now at http://secretsun.bandcamp.com.