If ever there’s an apt name for the Roy Orbison style lead-off track on Secret Cities’ third record, it’s ‘Purgatory’. The North Dakota trio have spent years caught between being a bona fide band and a “long distance music project.” It took an $8,500 Kickstarter project to get them together in one place – San Francisco’s indie magnet studio, Tiny Telephone. So what, you ask? Well, the engineering services of Jay Pellicci have ensured this outing sounds leagues brighter than their last, ‘Strange Hearts’.

Radio-friendly yet deceptively complex earworms like ‘The Rooftop’ and the title track simply wouldn’t have been possible last time. On the other hand, ‘Walk Me Home’ represents something of a regression. By cleaning up their act, Secret Cities have lost the lo-fi, off-kilter distinctiveness of days past. Much of this release brings to mind early Ruby Suns, the Shins and any number of post-millennial, harmony-loving indie bands, which is fine but means while it’s impossible to hate ‘Walk Me Home’, it’s hard to especially love it either.


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