3 out of 5
Produced by: Dave Willingham, Baboon
Baboon hit “go” and don’t stop for nearly all of Secret Robot Control’s 40-minutes, a passionate approach that initially promises great rewards – openers Night of the Long Knives and I’m OK If You’re OK are both Baboon classics: searing vocals and snark, oddball guitar and bass lines mixed with insane riffage and pummeling drums.
Things hit a hitch with the more poppy, emotive followup You and I, though: while this is a good song – every song on SRC is good – the attempt at dialing things down, while employing the same type of riffage and a somewhat flat production style, doesn’t provide the track with any especially notable features. It’s not quite as catchy, or as expressive, or as visceral as Baboon can otherwise be. This slowing down of momentum also draws to attention how similar a lot of the songs start to seem, operating in that same crowded-percussion, yelly-chorus fashion of the openers. Again, none of these tracks are bad, by any means, and the album achieves a pretty consistent ability to make you tap your toe or headbang, depending on the two slow or fast speeds at which things operate, but even that is perhaps indicative of the disc’s ultimately limited scope of sound.
Towards the end, Baboon manages to stretch themselves a bit more effectively, with a couple of longer tracks – 4+ minutes – and arrangements that step outside of the template otherwise hammered out on the previous tracks.
Secret Robot Control is eminently listenable, and though there are more well-rounded Baboon experiences, the sounds here do very much represent the group, and those first couple songs are peak examples of that. However, chances are you might not form much of a memory of what happens after those first songs.