Thanks to some excellent live performances which led to a support slot with Oasis, The Secret Machines' modern brand of prog rock/pop suddenly gained a wider appeal. Their second album 'Ten Silver Drops' consolidates rather than expands but is still a strong record all the same. Yet the beginning is quite disarming, for it could have been commercial suicide for a comedown song such as 'Alone, Jealous And Stoned' to figure so highly in the running order. However, it's reflective tone - complemented by Brandon Curtis' jaded turn in front of the mic - is comforting rather than harrowing. It's not the only dark track included here but what does impress is the The Secret Machines' ability to knock out a trio of lengthy but flab-free poppier numbers in the shape of 'Lightning Blue Eyes', 'All At Once' and 'Faded Lines' whilst 'I Want To Know' is like imagining a collaboration between 10CC and Mercury Rev. These moments compensate for occasionally pointless instrumental passages (the coda to 'I Hate Pretending' for example). So once again, the trio's huge sound and tendency to avoid the usual prog rock indulgences means that they have developed a fine follow-up.