Rocky Loves Emily – Secrets Don’t Make Friends

By Carter Fraser on April-30-2012 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : , , , , | Share

Rocky Loves Emily – Secrets Don’t Make Friends
Score: 3/5Score: 3/5Score: 3/5Score: 3/5Score: 3/53
3.5 (8 votes)

Artist: Rocky Loves Emily (Spotify)
Title: Secrets Don’t Make Friends
Label: Tooth and Nail
Release Date: 4/20/12
Reviewer: Carter Fraser

Tracklisting:

  1. I Don’t Like You
  2. Drivin’ Me Crazy
  3. Secrets Don’t Make Friends
  4. Oil & Water
  5. Be Mine Tonight
  6. Guilty, Guilty
  7. Dream
  8. Nightmare
  9. The One You’re Searching For
  10. It’s Not Me, It’s You
  11. The Root Of All Evil

For those who have buried their heads in the sand, popular opinion says that Tooth and Nail has had better days signing new bands. Most of the mainstays are gone now as well; Anberlin, The Classic Crime, mewithoutYou, and even Starflyer 59 have left the historically monumental mover-and-shaker of Christian music. In the wake of such preexisting notions was the controversial signing of Rocky Loves Emily, a five-piece pop-punk group from Detroit that puts the emphasis on the “pop.” Critics lambasted the signing as one of the worst offenses of the label yet, as RLE was just too silly and too immature. And now we’re here, a year and half past the initial signing, finally with a full length, and the result is……… not that bad.

It’s true, Secrets Don’t Make Friends is entirely immature and simple. It may very well be your stereotypical cheese drenched pop-punk album, but past this significant drawback, Secrets is, at a minimum, on par with the vast majority of Tooth and Nail’s recent debuts. The vocals are (mostly) unedited and without significant electronic adjustment, a possibility that could have quickly done RLE in. Secrets smartly keeps the absurdity to levels that have been successfully traversed by artists like, say, FM Static, making any argument against Tooth and Nail for “taking it too far this time” nearly moot. And really, once you comb past the negative hype and a bit of the excessive playfulness, Secrets is decent enough. While it may be a total cop-out to excuse a band for being trite by asserting that they never wanted to be more, Rocky Loves Emily can fall into this category for those who find such a distinction acceptable. The guitar work can be pretty solid sometimes, such as on second track “Drivin’ Me Crazy,” which features some tasteful Americana-style guitar soloing and abundant gang vocals. Secrets also intelligently keeps things upbeat for the vast majority of the album, avoiding the potential dud of an attempted “meaningful” ballad. “Dream” is the closest to this, and it is pretty cheesy, but it could have been a lot worse. For the most part, RLE has delivered a well-developed sound, regardless of the amount of other groups that have developed a very similar sound.

Brandon James Ellis’s vocals may be the hardest pill for some to stomach. His high-pitched, dare I say, sassy voice certainly brings to mind Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer. Ellis is great for the band he plays in, however, in the same way Avary’s voice parallels The Rocket Summer. Secrets Don’t Make Friends makes use of your basic suburban high school storytelling lyricism, with ample pop culture references. There’s nothing thought provoking to be found, but for those who enjoy the silliness of FM Static, Hawk Nelson, and possibly even early Relient K, it’s hard to imagine RLE not hitting the same chord. I suppose it’s not really even too much of a stretch to call Secrets “focused;” it is consistent, both in quality and sound.

Overall: For listeners easily turned off by cheese, RLE is not going to be your cup of tea. But for those who can tolerate even just a little of it, Secrets Don’t Make Friends might be a pleasant surprise. Don’t expect an album-of-the-year dark horse, but it’s worth a listen. Give these guys credit; they’ve crafted an album better than many of their critics may have thought probable.

RILY: The Rocket Summer, FM Static, Run Kid Run, Stellar Kart, Hawk Nelson

Rocky Loves Emily - Secrets Don't Make Friends, 3.5 out of 5 based on 8 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Carter Fraser

About the author Carter Fraser

I'm a student originally from Arlington, TX, but currently residing in St. Louis, MO. I enjoy music, going to concerts, playing and watching baseball, working with my hands, fishing, art, Minecraft, and sleeping/eating/other necessary activities for life. Long walks on the beach are acceptable as well. View all posts by Carter Fraser

10 Responses to 'Rocky Loves Emily – Secrets Don’t Make Friends'

  1. Iaya97 says:

    Great review! I agree 100%.

  2. evan144 says:

    Really good review, but still do not think it deserves a 3. 2 1/2 is more valid. It has caught me a little off guard (minus a few songs) but there are far too many flaws to be a solid 3.

  3. Good review, sir! I appreciate that you are willing to look past the negativity that floats around this band.

  4. Lucas says:

    I’d give this 3 1/2 stars myself. I thought they displayed a lot of musical talent on this album and definitely have potential. I just think Brandon Ellis should improve his vocals a bit and they REALLY need to work on the lyrics. I mean I think he says “sucks” about 3 times on the album… I know it’s not supposed to be a deep album lyrically, but that’s kind of a testimony to how immature the lyrics are.
    You can be a fun pop/punk band and still write very mature/clever lyrics. Case in point: Relient K’s “Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do”.
    Either way I’m sure this will be one of my “windows rolled down in the summer” albums. :)

  5. iamjustin says:

    i feel like this review is pretty spot on, the band lives and dies with the singer. if you like brandon’s voice then this is simple, buy the album, if you don’t there’s not a possibility to convince you to listen to this.
    the idea that people dont like them has anything to due with maturity is just dumb, people like early rk like marilyn manson ate my girlfriend, people like the weird immature wobble crap that family force 5 puts out.
    it’s not a good pop punk album, but definitely not a bad album

  6. Joeshmooga says:

    One ghing that kinda befuddles me is that Tooth & Nail focuses a lot on Christian music, yet these guys don’t register as a Christian band (like when T&N signed Search the City, a band who actually used God’s name in vain in one of their songs).

    • Brandon says:

      Tooth & Nail has been following the same footpath since their inception in 1993. If you don’t believe me, just go back and listen to all those albums I would define as “Classics”. Not every band in their history of releasing albums has been a 100% “Christian” band. Many were bands where Christian members were present, others were bands where the primary singer/songwriter was a Christian and so on. The one thing they’ve always been good at is putting out solid, clean, faith based music for almost 20 years. I have heard these same complaints about the label since I first got into their stuff back in 1994. There has always been some sort of “controversy” when there really shouldn’t be.

    • JoshIVM says:

      Outside of the heavier bands the majority of T&N bands throughout their history were not ministry oriented bands (lyrically) at all.

  7. Joeshmooga says:

    Oops, I meant to say “thing” instead of “ghing” :D

    And Brandon, not to worry, I’m not trashing either T&N or RLE. I’m just pointing out that their lyrics don’t have anything to do with Christianity.

Comments closed.

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