Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Regard & RAYE – Secrets

We still could use more Raye ft., less ft. Raye, in our lives…


Scott Mildenhall: An unsigned producer has an unexpected first hit with a bootleg, and the music industry needs to progress their career (or eke out a few more coins). A heavily backed singer-songwriter needs help establishing themselves (because we only have so many coins). It’s the purest marriage since Chuck and Larry. This is no crime or torpedo in itself, but the disregard for disguising it almost is — “Secrets” is functional in the most spreadsheet sense. Had it been either act’s first release, it would have been more interesting, but sadly you can’t release a follow-up as your debut.

Kayla Beardslee: RAYE’s solo work over the last year has been wonderful, gently emotional pop deserving of mainstream recognition — so, of course, her breakout hit is this semi-anonymous feature on a random dance track. As random dance hits go, though, “Secrets” isn’t bad, aiming for hazy ambience instead of an overpowering drop and leaving enough space for RAYE’s airy vocals to shine.

Thomas Inskeep: RAYE has the perfect voice for this tidy little slab of electro-house, a quiet grower that’s far superior to Regard’s last time around. Perhaps he’s better suited for originals than cover versions?

Oliver Maier: What’s more disheartening, the fact that none of the seven individual people with songwriting or production credits on this song cared that it was a tub of grey paste disguised as a house track, or the fact that it did huge numbers despite the (ostensible) absence of gyms and cocktail bars? Sound off in the comments.

Tim de Reuse: A case study in success through restraint: Through the gossipy whisper of the hook, the tasteful ’90s house backing, and the feathery treatment of RAYE’s vocals, “Secrets” chooses an energy level and sticks to it. If it were any more dramatic, it wouldn’t be as easy to put on repeat.

Katherine St Asaph: “Secrets” has the melody and melancholy of a classic dancefloor ache, something like “Who’s That Girl.” From another producer and singer it could be devastating; but this version, while still well above average, is so overproduced and overcrowded with vocals that there’s no space to fully feel.

Leah Isobel: I love the idea of contrasting a lyric this morose with a beat this whomping, but something doesn’t work for me. It might be that RAYE’s vocal in the chorus is pitch-shifted down, which removes some of her emotional shading and makes her just another sonic element. It might also be that the lyrics paint scenes of isolated, domestic anguish, which doesn’t fit Regard’s BPM. Either way, the disconnect reduces the narrative to background music, and RAYE’s done better, livelier work in this emotional tenor.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I’m still waiting for RAYE to sing on a track that’s as daring and confident as her voice and as interesting as “Shhh”: something that takes her from a great vocalist and emoter to a fully-realized, ambitious artist. “Secrets” does come close. The atmosphere is palpable and the house beats are perfectly proficient, but the interesting percussion and hooks dissipate after 30 seconds.

Juana Giaimo: The first half of “Secrets” is really exciting. The fast house beat and the combination of Raye’s delicate voice with the darker manipulated vocals create some interesting contrasts (at first I even thought there might be two singers). But it turns out that if you repeat the same in the second half, the excitement is gone.

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One Response to “Regard & RAYE – Secrets”

  1. Aw, going through TSJ stuff I hadn’t gotten around to and just noticed the subhead…my RAYE of this year so far (so far?) is “Natalie Don’t,” which is technically a better song title than song but still a good song.

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