‘Sekrets’ shine with synth-steeped songs

Matt Narlesky

Heartbreak, loneliness and regret make for a rough weekend; but with the help of dark lyrics and catchy melodies, Matt Skiba and the Sekrets turn the topics into a musical masterpiece in their May 8 release, “Babylon,” their debut album.

The “Sekrets,” which includes AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and My Chemical Romance touring drummer Jarrod Alexander, is the side project of Alkaline Trio front man Skiba.

Skiba’s ties to the Trio are apparent in many of the album’s tracks, especially in the heartbreak anthem “Luciferian Blues,” a song brimming with distorted guitars and macabre imagery, and “Olivia,” which verbalizes hopelessness with grim metaphors.

“The End of Joy” also evokes the Trio, employing a pulsing verse and soaring chorus, both flavored by elaborate bass and drum fills, to mourn the “The end of joy / The death of truth.”

Skiba is not afraid to make departures from his past with the melodic pop punk songs “Voices” and “All Fall Down.”

A much more dramatic digression from Skiba’s Trio roots is made in the ’80s-influenced, clap-filled “Falling Like Rain,” a nostalgia-themed song complete with a synthesizer solo.

“How the Hell Did We Get Here?” also uses synths, starting in the introduction where a spacey synth line accompanies rattling hihats and an eerie piano, a nod to the song’s horror novel influence, “House of Leaves.”

Skiba explores new ground lyrically on the album with “You,” which he said in an interview with AMP magazine is his first love song.

Another emotional song is “Haven’t You,” a song, boasting a funky synth line and an arpeggiated guitar part, about overcoming loss to find strength.

The only acoustic song on the album, “Angel of Deaf,” has a similar theme; however, it takes a more negative approach with Skiba singing “Our dreams were no lie / They just never seem to come true.”

The album’s lyrical beauty and musical diversity, combined with Skiba’s powerful vocal performance, make “Babylon” an essential for any Matt Skiba fan, earning the album five out of five stars.