Talk Normal’s Secret Cog, a five song EP, begins with a noise sample that is not quickly placed—a curious noise that immediately demands attention and perks the listener’s ear. This theme lasts throughout the album as the Brooklyn duo plays dissonant and provocative songs that defy any one genre.
At times they are clearly noisy with Sarah Register’s distorted and wandering guitar; at other times they border on a mathematical sound with Andrya Ambro’s drumming and the call and response timing of the guitar and bass in the song “33,” and they ultimately fit into the no-wave category, which is a description they receive often. The guitar playing is reminiscent of early Erase Errata and even a bit of Fugazi, like the bright lead riff in “Lemonade.”
The five songs weave into each other so that the album becomes something of a larger whole. True, the songs can most definitely be enjoyed by themselves, but it is a different experience to listen to the album in its entirety. Talk Normal are successful at simultaneously creating songs that can hold a careful ear but also allow the listener to unfocus and feel the effects that the songs generate.
I always appreciate a lyrics sheet, but one is not supplied with the album. I suspect it is because the words are not as important of a contribution to the record as are the sounds that the singing makes, which adds to the music like its own instrument. The singing waxes and wanes much like the music, and the drums are carefully aligned to build the crescendos of the songs. While listening to Secret Cog I imagine that these songs would have yet another powerful effect while played live, which is something I’m very curious to see. Being able to pull off a variety of effects with five songs is quite admirable, and these women do it well.