Secret Space – ‘Secret Space’ EP Review

Posted: by Riley

It’s been a long time coming for Dean Tartaglia, frontman of the newest Equal Vision signees, Secret Space. Amongst other projects, Tartaglia spent time as one half of inventive rock duo Silent Lions, before a muddy trademark situation stripped them of their name. Read more about that here: ( Following the controversy, the group took a hiatus and focused on other projects. Tartaglia turned his attention to Secret Space, and in just a year since the situation, the band has released a fantastic music video, two great singles, signed to Equal Vision Records, and dropped a surprise self-titled EP – this one, right here.

If I were to give a conventional description of Secret Space, I might refer to them as an emotive rock band that incorporates elements of shoegaze and emo; however, this captures neither the scope, nor the character of the trio. Whereas most shoegaze revivalism opts to drown songs in atmospheric distortion a la Nothing, Secret Space instead commands elements of the genre, employing bursts of sonic contortion and backpedalling seamlessly – moments of clarity inform and compliment moments of meander. Take ‘New Heights,’ for example; the 3rd – and best, in my opinion – track from the release is a slinky mesmerizer with a sludgy rhythm section and bleary phasers. The track allows its sinister bass to thump beneath Tartaglia’s measured croon before ushering in a twinkly chamber-psych guitar-line and a particularly special moment; as the first chorus enters, the frontman throws his voice into cavernous oblivion, letting the echoes of his voice cover every inch of the sonic playground Secret Space have mapped out for themselves – his passion evident as he projects “common ground, well it was never there.” 

The EP was produced by Citizen frontman Mat Kerekes, who is also a Toledo native; he’s also a damn good producer. He and Zach Shipps, who mixed and mastered this thing, are responsible for the clean, spacious quality we get on each track. The loud-quiet-loud formula has never sounded better than it does here; Secret Space’s sophisticated songwriting is top-tier, standing out against like-minded acts of today (Balance & Composure, Superheaven, Cloakroom), who are damn good in their own right. Part of the allure of Dean’s projects – whether this one, Silent Lions, or solo Elliot Smith covers – is an invisible, nearly untraceable attribute. Dean has soul. While he is definitely one of the most technically skilled singers in the genre, he also injects his soulful affectation and spirit into up-tempo pop-rock songs, lending them a weight and personality much different from that of his peers. Even ‘Pit of my Stomach,’ the EP’s uber-catchy 90’s rocker, is inked with a wispy sense of warmth that has become a staple in Secret Space’s sound. 

All four tracks on this debut EP from the Toledo trio display a wide range of ability and mood – each as compelling as the next. After the controversy and obstacles the band has overcome in the past year, this EP feels like the first in a line of many triumphs for a very deserving band. 

Score: 8.8/10

FFO: Citizen, Balance & Composure, Superheaven

Essentials: ‘New Heights,’ ‘Pit of my Stomach’