15 Apr 2021
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Secret Knives - Album Review: Snuff

05 Nov 2019 // A review by Mike Alexander

The knives have been sharpened and the secret is out – Ash Smith hasn’t “snuffed” it.  He’s just spent the best part of a decade redefining himself as Secret Knives, the alias he uses to channel his creative muse,  and refining the follow-up to 2010’s low fi pop high-flier Affection. All the normal cliches apply here – the wilderness years have been well spent. 

Snuff is a glorious, if somewhat long overdue, return from exile from an artist who literally explodes into a poetic rush on the opening track Spinning Top with blistering intensity and giddy chorus. And if the lyrical imagery is somewhat self-effacing, there’s nothing shy or ungainly about the way they are carefully hand-wrapped.

The bulk of the 10 songs are vividly sprung with hallelujah melodies and hooks that are creeping, enveloping joys. The search for self-definition and understanding on songs such as the title track, Imposter Syndrome and the sparkling excess of Excess is not so much heard as felt.

Smith's spidery vocals are beautifully spun in an offbeat silky fashion. The voice is crushingly searching, deeply melodic, almost woozy at times, and when the knife cuts it’s deeper than any wound that anyone else could inflict. Most of the “savagery” as such is felt through his guitar playing, which screeches and squeals at various times and simply keens at others.

Snuff may well be the comeback of the decade. 

NB: There’s a bonus digital only collection of “exploratory ambient instrumentals written alongside Snuff.  It’s appropriately titled Ashley Smith's Blue Period.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Snuff
Year: 2019
Type: Album
My Capriccio
Year: 2017
Type: EP
Black Hole
Year: 2012
Type: EP
Affection
Year: 2010
Type: Album
The Wolves
Year: 2008
Type: Album

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