I’ve been having trouble writing a review for “Babylon,” the debut album from Matt Skiba and The Sekrets. It’s one of those rare albums that I like and dislike in equal amounts. That being said, a 3 star rating would seem to make sense but I’m not sure it would be fair. You see, there really isn’t a bad song on “Babylon”, the album is full of catchy songs filled with slightly dark lyrics. You know, the stuff Matt Skiba is famous for and therein lies my problem with this release. Every track on “Babylon” sounds like it could have easily become an Alkaline Trio song. And a couple of them (“Olivia”, “The End Of Joy” and especially “Falling Like Rain”) sound like they already are Alkaline Trio songs, the melodies are too familiar.
That being said, “Babylon” is still a good album. Musically, Hunter Burgan, of AFI and Jarrod Alexander of My Chemical Romance do a great job of backing up Mr. Skiba. And lyrically, Matt paints some vivid pictures, sometimes sad, sometimes a little creepy but always interesting.
My favorite song on this disc is the opener, “Voices”, an upbeat track with a great sing along chorus. It seems to be either a song about being alone or about being a killer, maybe both. I don’t know, sometimes I have no idea what Matt is singing about.
“Angel of Deaf”, a sad acoustic song that stands out and serves as a great closer for the disc. The only thing that I don’t like about it is the three minutes of humming that is stuck on the end of the song. It sounds like someone left an instrument plugged in and just kept the tape rolling, it’s annoying. Oh well, at least I can edit that out on iTunes.
“How The Hell Did We Get Here” is another of the ones that I really like. It’s got a dark, haunting sound to it and mentions “House of Leaves”, a very hard to read horror novel in the chorus. Or maybe it has nothing to do with the book, see my above statement about Matt’s lyrics.
The previously mentioned “Falling Like Rain” is also a very good song but each time I listen to it I find myself trying to figure out which other song it sounds like. The melody in the chorus is almost identical to one in an Alkaline Trio track.
So to sum this review up, if you are a fan of Alkaline Trio, I see no reason why you shouldn’t like this album but I wanted a little something more. Earlier this year Matt put out an e.p. with Atom Willard of Angels and Airwaves (and several other bands) under the name “theHELL”. On that release, he managed to sound like Matt Skiba but not sound like Matt Skiba fronting Alkaline Trio and I wish this album was more like that. I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars – good album but when I’m in the mood to hear Matt, there are several albums I’d choose over this one.