Why do we need to pigeonhole everything? Rick Terfry (alias – Buck 65) doesn’t make rap music. And it’s not folk either. Not punk, not rockabilly, not jazz. No, no, no, no. Unfortunately, this poses as a problem for many. For example, which little sign are the record shops to categorize the album under when it comes in? However, the question you need to ask yourself under these circumstances is: does any of this classification shit really even matter, especially when the music is this good?

Secret House Against the World opens with a scratchy, slightly droning song, appropriately titled ‘Roughhouse Blues’. Here we find him dreaming about some waitress as a perfect wife and getting tired with the circus life. It comes across as a little neurotic and quite self-deprecating, but it’s done so cleverly that you begin to be charmed a little by the blunt honesty and sometimes cruel humour you find.

It doesn’t take very long to figure out that this collection of songs is nothing if not abrupt. Take ‘Devil’s Eyes’. Very grandiose, it possesses an almost operatic quality (without the opera singing). Essentially, it’s music you could tango to. ‘Le 65isme’, on the other hand, is for “Rebels, bad-asses and mavericks”, who I suppose it wouldn’t freak out (like it does me a little) with its tripped-out jazz guitars and French spoken-word snippets. You get what he’s trying to say though, because listening to it at full volume makes you at least feel like a rebel, bad-ass or maverick. ‘Kennedy Killed the Hat’, the first single, is strangely confusing and seriously cool; still I can’t put my finger on what makes it so. The frantic, somewhat deranged ‘Blanc-Bec’ is Buck 65 at his most random – “Skeleton on Fire! Ridin’ a motorcycle!” is the chorus…and yet again, it works. Interestingly sexy in a mellow, stoned sort of way, ‘Drawing Curtains’ reminds me of trip-hop, that excellent, short-lived 90’s genre. Hopefully this gives you an idea of quite how unpredictable and, to a certain extent, directionless, Secret House Against the World actually is. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, because it’s definitely not (though all logic would say it probably should be).

A definite highlight of Secret House Against the World comes with its seventh track, ‘The Floor’. Extremely minimalist and terribly sad, it’s seemingly autobiographical lyrics make you feel awkward and a little uncomfortable while listening. The whispered vocal, painfully frank words and tinkering piano melody force the listener to face something real without any blinders on, and it’s a bit scary in a very gorgeous way. Another tune worth some attention is the groovy, folksy ‘Drunk Without Drinking’. In this one actual singing is featured along with the straight-talk rap that’s generally present in Buck 65’s work. Honestly, it’s got soul, and it’s heartbreaking in its simplicity.

With the sharpest wit imaginable and an open-minded approach to music, Buck 65 has created a winner of a record. I’m sort of in love with it and, lest we forget, I loathe 99% of hip-hop and rap music. But that’s exactly the beauty of this record in my opinion. The abhorrent nature of it is a blessing in disguise, maybe because it doesn’t exclude or eliminate any type of listener – the music is so varied that, I believe, almost anybody can enjoy the songs. Bottom line, if you’re willing to be as open-minded as Buck 65 must’ve been in making Secret House Against the World, you will certainly rate this album as highly as I do. I mean, do you like being typified or typecast as an individual? Point is, people don’t need to be, and neither does music. A stunning album is a stunning album (and they don’t come along too often these days), so let’s just enjoy it, eh?  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Roadhouse Blues
02. Devil’s Eyes
03. le 65 isme
04. The Suffering Machine
05. Surrender to Strangeness
06. Kennedy Killed the Cat
07. The Floor
08. Blood of a Young Wolf
09. Drunk Without Drinking
10. Blanc Bec
11. Corrugated Tin Facade
12. Drawing Curtains
13. Devil Eyes (Paris)

Run Time: 48:50