Clark’s Secret Identity – The Promise of a Wonderful Future

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While Clark’s Secret Identity has too few releases under its belt to be considered prolific, I will say that there was little wait (exactly 12 months) between the release of the debut EP and the release of the debut album. Hell, the band played its first live show this past April. The stylistically ambiguous Pennsylvania trio seems to have wasted no time on getting The Promise of a Wonderful Future to our ears.

“(The record) permeates with uncertainty and abandonment,” said chief songwriter Shane Anthony in a press release. “The experiences in each song are very real, and I hope that in the end it speaks to those who have been there before.

“Really, the album is just about growing up.”

After listening to the opening track, Dolce Vita, I personally found some truth to Anthony’s words. The spacey vibe of this song left me with feelings of loneliness and isolation. The music reeks of gloom with lyrics that drive home the feeling that you’re on your own in this world. “It’s getting to the point where I lose my faith in humanity,” he sings. “More concerned with ourselves, eyes locked into the mirror of vanity.” However, the inclusion of a mini Xylophone adds a bright spark to the darkness.  In a performance video for Dolce Vita, Anthony is seen swapping between the mini Xylophone, guitar, and keyboard.  

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The guys show how many styles they can incorporate into one song in Laughing Stock Nemesis. While listening you can hear elements of progressive, experimental, punk, and doom rock. The musical direction of this one changes without warning. Because of this, the three mates are able to fit all these genres into a timeframe of just 5:05.

Pop is a genre I’ve never heard from CSI. But surprisingly enough, Opacity starts out like a standard pop rock song. This ends once the verse kicks in and Keith Horning adds in some funk with his bass line. The keyboard plays along softly but soon adds in some peculiar sounding high-octave notes. Opacity kicks off normally by radio standards but soon takes the listener on a journey through the abnormal.  

Into a Thousand Pieces is on the more traditional side as well. This one is more focused and less erratic in terms of song structure. It’s melancholic yet melodic and a bit catchier than the previous tracks.  This doesn’t mean that the less ordinary instruments have been left out.  A soothing combination of solo piano and vocals begins at 3:39. A cello and violin string section is also included for the outro.

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According to Bandcamp, drummer Matthew Bankes wrote the lyrics to Dolce Vita and An Indecent Solution. He takes an apparent anti-war stance on the latter. “Welcome to the concert hall. Come on in and take your seat. Watch the bloodstained orchestra play the machine-gun symphony.” Musically, it’s quite unsettling with the rhythm section marching along at a sluggish tempo.

Anthony expresses his thoughts on life and death in To Those Still Grieving. A couple of firsts for the album come in the utilization of an acoustic guitar and a tin whistle.

The first minute of Down at Ridley Park is a blend of crickets chirping, guitar melody, and Anthony talking into a tape recorder. This turns out to be the heaviest song in the collection. The anger here seems to be fueled by negative past experiences with the opposite sex. After a chaotic medley of experimental jamming, Anthony returns to talk into his tape recorder. The crickets are also back to carry us over into the next and final track.

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A range of emotion is on display in Gas Station Heroes. There’s angst in the vocals but the brightness of the piano, guitar, and bells counters this at times. The feelings of sorrow are unmistakable, but the overall atmosphere of the song is optimistic.

This album is eclectic from start to finish and I had much of the same reaction listening to it that I had when I learned that Clark’s Secret Identity already released a new album.

That reaction, of course, comes from hearing something unexpected.

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