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All of the Stars

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Album Review

All of the Stars is only Secret Shine's second full-length album in the nearly 18 years since they first formed. Even taking into account the nine-year layoff between 1995 and 2004, that's almost an Axl Rose like level of indolence. What's impressive about this album is that in every way, it's of a piece with the Secret Shine releases that preceded it by 15 years or more. Clairecords could have claimed that these songs were completed in 1995 but remained unreleased due to the folding of the band's old label, U.K. cult indie Sarah Records, and few would have suspected otherwise. Secret Shine were philosophically aligned with the shoegazer side of Sarah Records, as opposed to the winsome twee pop side, and these ten songs are, as they should be, drenched in effects, echo, and reverb, with Kathryn Smith and Jamie Gingell's completely deadpan vocals buried deep in the mix à la My Bloody Valentine. Alternating between pastoral dream pop like "Another Day" and the shimmering "All That's Left," and slightly more aggressive tracks like "Hate You When You Smile" and "The Sound of Light," All of the Stars has all of the elements that made Secret Shine what they were, and absolutely nothing more. Whether or not this is enough to make All of the Stars a worthwhile return is due almost entirely to the listener's fondness for their old material, but this is that rare reunion album that does nothing to tarnish the band's reputation.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Bristol, England dream pop outfit Secret Shine was formed in November 1990 by vocalist Jamie Gingell and ex-Panda Pops guitarist Scott Purnell; originally dubbed Amelia's Dream, the duo recorded a three-song demo which they mailed to the influential indie label Sarah Records, who agreed to issue a single, "After Years," in the autumn of 1991. Another single, "Unbearable," appeared almost simultaneously on the German imprint A Turntable Friend; by this time the group had rechristened itself Secret...
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All of the Stars, Secret Shine
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