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First Listen: Brass Bed, 'The Secret Will Keep You'

NPR icon by Robin Hilton

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When the three guys in the Louisiana band Brass Bed hit their late 20s, they came to realize some of life's unsettling truths: Youthful dreams are usually just dreams, the best-laid plans often end in failure or disappointment, and many of the promises of finding joy and comfort later in life come up empty. But on Brass Bed's new album, The Secret Will Keep You, the group doesn't wallow in its new-found grief and malaise so much as celebrate it.

The oddly buoyant and utterly captivating album, out April 23, evokes a sad parade of broken hearts, loneliness, death, fear and even madness. Lovers come and go, spirits are crushed, lies are told. But for the most part, Brass Bed maintains at least a veneer of good cheer, complete with sweet harmonies and sprightly beats.

What makes the songs so compelling, and what invites multiple listens, are the strange textures and rumbling guitars that lurk in the corners. Taking a page from the Wilco playbook (think Summerteeth or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), Brass Bed wraps dark themes in sunny melodies, adding a layer of mysterious synth sounds before letting the mix dissolve into glorious chaos. It's part sonic exploration, part infectious pop and part noise rock.

The Secret Will Keep You asks more questions than it answers. "Cold Chicory" ponders how to best cope with disillusionment, while "A Bullet for You" questions the use of dreaming and "Back and Forth" wonders whether we can ever truly know ourselves. But the overarching question of the album seems to be life's biggest: What's the point of anything? Nobody knows, of course; life is an endlessly baffling ride, and the best we can hope for are pleasant surprises along the way. The Secret Will Keep You is one of them.

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Audio for this feature is no longer available.