A few months back a friend introduced me to the song “Somebody That I Used to Know” and at the time I wasn’t so impressed with it. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon it on music television and gave it another whirl. This time round it connected and I found myself really enjoying the song and so decided to investigate the album it’s from, Making Mirrors. This explains why this isn’t a particularly timeous review since the album is over a year old now.
I’ve got to say that I was very surprised. I was expecting more of the same and truth be told wasn’t anticipating taking too much enjoyment from it, but I was happy to have been proven wrong. Making Mirrors is an eclectic album full of variety in tempo and vocal performances that sometimes change quite radically. It doesn’t go quite so far as genre hopping, but influences are obviously taken from all sorts of music past and present.
After the gentle introductory track the album opens properly with one of the four released singles, “Easy Way Out”. It’s an upbeat quick tempo number which quickly winds down and flows into the aforementioned “Somebody That I Used to Know”, a great slice of melancholy pop which lyrically turns itself on its head when the guest vocal by Gotye’s fellow Australian Kimbra begins.
It gives way to “Eyes Wide Open”, another of the released singles. This is an excellent number with a similar vibe to much of Bloc Party’s earlier releases though with a distinctly different vocal. The vocal range is again highlighted in “Smoke and Mirrors” which if been asked who it was with no knowledge, I would have said Panic at the Disco. I’d have gambled on that in fact.
“I Feel Better” stars off like the theme from a spaghetti western before suddenly turning into something reminiscent of Al Green or more recently Gnarls Barkley, whereas “In Your Light” is pure lightweight happy cheerful pop in stark contrast to the standout single that brought me to the album in the first place.
Interest drops a little with “State of the Art”, a slow reggae like number with a distorted electronic mumbling vocal. It’s peculiar to say the least. It makes sense as Gotye pokes fun at himself through the song by sarcastically detailing how songs can be constructed by one man to sound massive, yet it’s not a particularly listenable song and one of the lower points despite its ironic content as is “Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You” which sadly lessens the ironic undertone of the previous track.
“Giving Me a Chance” is a gentle track that thankfully stops the end of the album descending into those few you just skip, but it’s “Save Me” that really ensures you don’t reach for the stop button. It’s an excellent track that draws you into it with a great beat and great vocal. The album is topped off with “Bronte”, which truth be told isn’t an amazing song, but decent enough to leave you happy that you’ve just enjoyed the last 45 minutes and not had them spoiled by a duff ender.
Making Mirrors is an esoteric, energetic and experimental record without treading into the realms of egotistical self indulgence. It’s reminiscent of so many other artists yet unique enough that it doesn’t sound like a covers album. There are hints of Peter Gabriel and Sting in vocal, and artists such as Beck, We Are Scientists and TV on the Radio in the range of musical variety. If I could write anything that had a sniff of any of those comparisons, I’d be a happy man as Gotye should be with this release. I’ll be keeping my ears open for the next album and hopefully this time I’ll hear it when it’s actually released instead of catching up a year later.