Indie-rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist State of The Secretary, aka Isaac Anderson, recently dropped his self-titled debut album, a nine-track collection of songs described as if “The Smiths and The Cure played music now, and took stylistic cues from ’90s alt-rock.”
State of The Secretary’s genesis occurred when Anderson was hanging out with his live band at an Airbnb. The band was giving him grief for sitting on a bunch of songs that were his life’s work. It was a heaven-sent moment.
“I kept psyching myself out about making this album because I cared so much about the songs. And because I strongly believe in keeping everything I do as ‘real’ and ‘genuine’ as possible. This includes recording to tape with no digital editing and extends down to keeping my videos largely digital effects-free. It all seemed like a daunting task.”
Produced by Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Beach Bunny) and recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas; Headroom Studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Hopkins House Recordings — Anderson’s home studio — in Zebulon, North Carolina, Isaac Anderson played all the instruments, sang every vocal, wrote all the songs, and kept the recordings as analog as possible.
Because his mother is a singer and plays piano, Anderson and his sister were required to take piano lessons. Despite enduring practicing rather than enjoying it, he discovered he was spellbound by music. Later, his aunt taught him three chords on the guitar, and he was off and running.
When he learned that Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl employed 4-tack mini recorders to document his songs, Anderson began writing songs and recording. This analog method of recording fashioned his sound as much as any other influences.
Talking about the songs on the album, Anderson says:
“In a lot of ways, I had a privileged childhood. But I was into art and films, and I had acne and was too skinny. I felt so alienated from my peers, and I earnestly wanted to fit in. A lot of these songs deal with the disappointments that come with that, like being rejected by girls, but I do offer a glimmer of hope in these songs.”
Entry points on State of The Secretary include “Terminal Ray,” which opens on a raucous drum shuffle flowing into heavy, dirty guitars and then descends to a bass-filled melody topped by Anderson’s tasty tenor.
A personal favourite because of its edgy indie-rock flavours, “PeliCan” is at once raw and stripped down, while Anderson’s vocals take on snarling-lite tones. For some reason, “All About” conjures up suggestions of the Goo Goo Dolls covered by J.D. Souther – low-slung yet vibrant and full of delicious, jangly guitars. The creamy, glittering, melancholic movement of “Slap Me Happy,” along with Anderson’s evocative voice and psychedelic washes of guitars, produces alluring harmonics.
The final track, “Leave The Premises,” vaguely reminiscent of the Eagles merged with Jackson Browne, exudes SoCal soft country rock savours moussed up with heady indie-rock textures. Anderson’s vocals project an aura of emotional urgency, imbuing the lyrics with a rictus of desperation.
Pervaded by authenticity and the expressive vocals of Isaac Anderson, State of The Secretary is worthy of vast attention.
State of The Secretary Track Listing:
1. Sweet Dreams
2. Terminal Ray
4. All About
5. Slap Me Happy
6. Far Away
8. Personal Therapy
9. Leave The Premises
Run Time: 29:02
Release Date: July 31, 2022
Record Label: State of The Secretary