LabelTooth And Nail
Tracklist1. The Victory
2. Big Machines
5. Hey Stranger
6. The People
7. White Lies
8. Look To Pass
9. Try It
10. Don’t Stop Believing
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You can tell this Number One Gun album is really just the solo work of Jeff Schneeweis. Contrasting noticeably with the exuberant pop-punk grit of classic NOG, To The Secrets And Knowledge is glossy and atmospheric – but ultimately, not better. Whether it’s because it imitates the tired Tooth and Nail formula too closely, or because it just sounds terribly colorless, it’s obvious Schneeweis put the album together just to fulfill a record contract. Either that or he did a convincing job pretending it is one.
Everything that’s sedating about this ten track lullaby, “The Victory” embodies. Beginning the album with some of the most irritating synth notes you’ll ever hear, it eventually drifts into mid-tempo pop/rock and becomes the highlight track. When Schneeweis raises the vocal altitude in the chorus, he makes it sound like a tamer Saosin, which is impressive. Too bad then that the melody quickly runs dry; see if you can stand the song by the fifth listen. It’s a drab copy/paste for the proceeding four songs. Not even the yearning, “Don’t erase my life!” line in “Hey Stranger” can save the first half from its monotony.
The second half shows some vague improvement. “The People” is lyrically intriguing when it reflects on the disappointments and trials of humanity, but its I’m-half-asleep acoustic backing murders any potential for interest from the listener. “White Lies” and the instrumental “Look To Pass” are relatively solid, while “Try It” bears resemblance to older Number One Gun. Oddly enough, the album closes on a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Schneeweis’ rendition can be called decent, though it doesn’t add anything new to the original, and his screeching to reach the high notes evokes at least a mild cringe. Still, the track choice genuinely reflects the album’s uninspired spirit. Couldn’t “Look To Pass” or “Try It” have closed instead? It seems more logical to “go out with a bang” rather than “go out with humdrum.”
To The Secrets And Knowledge just leaves a soapy aftertaste, which is the most undesirable kind. It’s not thoroughly strong, and it isn’t shockingly awful – it just hovers nonchalantly in lukewarm territory. Hopefully, Schneeweis isn’t satisfied with it either. Older Number One Gun albums are proof that there is such a thing as better days for the seasoned writer, though, and the sooner he finds them the less criticism he’ll have to stomach. In the mean time don’t even bother with To The Secrets And Knowledge.