MUSIC REVIEW: Gotye-"Making Mirrors"

Wow, an album with a song that has actual airplay? That has received wide U.S. release and was reviewed in Rolling Stone? Say it ain’t so!

I found out about Gotye through “Somebody That I Used to Know”, the excellent standout single from this album, a few months ago. The song was catchy and beautifully crafted, and Gotye, whose real name is Wally de Backer, struck me with his excellent vocals that have rightfully been compared to Sting’s and to Peter Gabriel’s. Encouraged by the single, I listened to the album several times on Spotify and I enjoyed it greatly, enough to buy it and review it.

(gotye.com)

The album overall is characterized by a meticulous layering of sound upon which the vocals are sung. Sometimes the instrumentals sound almost tribal, other times electronic and other times in a way that is reminiscent of 80’s pop. Gotye’s voice is emotional and breathy and powerful. This album has a great amount of variety and the majority of songs are excellent and memorable for their sound and their lyrics. The album is 42:19 of near pure sonic bliss.

THE GOOD:

This album is overall a success, where the vast majority of songs are at least good, and several are truly fantastic. The album has a large amount of variety, with Gotye slipping into styles of music from multiple decades. The best song on the album still remains “Somebody That I Used to Know”, featuring female vocals by a singer named Kimbra, tells the story of a breakup from both party’s perspective, with a rousing, catchy chorus. Kimbra and Gotye complement each other perfectly, and the final chorus especially displays Gotye’s intricate, whimsical layering of sounds. The opening title track, “Making Mirrors”, starts off electronically, with a wistful melancholy that is reminiscent of “Fractales Pt. 2” by Apparat, and hushed low vocals and segues into the infectiously catchy, too-short “Easy Way Out”, which could almost be a single from the late 70s or early 80s and is truly a fun listen. “Eyes Wide Open” starts with a driving drumbeat and has Gotye belting out a chorus that could be from a Genesis song and is also an enjoyable track. “Smoke and Mirrors” is another example of the layered, atmospheric excellence that characterizes this album. “I Feel Better” has a retro Motown-esque sound and earnest vocals. “In Your Light” mixes acoustic and electronic elements well. “State of the Art” has an interesting lyrical theme and is commendable for the degree of experimentation with the vocals and the instrumentals. “Giving Me a Chance” and “Save Me” are two excellent, emotional ballads. The former is muted and hushed and the latter is more energetic and powerful, and both are enjoyable.

THE BAD:

Some songs, including closing track “Bronte”, “In Your Light”, “Smoke and Mirrors”, while at the very least pleasant to listen to, have dull moments where nothing interesting is happening to keep the listener’s attention. The latter runs on a bit too long, while some of the most energetic and interesting songs are too short! “State of the Art” dabbles in the ridiculous with the electronically lowered vocals that ultimately lowers the overall quality of the song. The other most experimental track, “Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching”, is sonically interesting but also seems like a filler track.

Still, the good and the interesting far outweigh the mediocre elements. I highly recommend the stellar “Somebody That I Used to Know” to anyone considering giving Gotye a listen, and I highly recommend “I Feel Better”, “Eyes Wide Open”, and “Easy Way Out” to fans of a more retro sound. This album is playful and detailed and is, overall, a pleasure to listen to.

Music Video for "Somebody That I Used to Know" (Warning: Nudity)

Comments

  1. I am sure I have heard the song that has gotten air time although as you know I never remember any songs or artists. I like the way you compare the music to 70s and 80s pop for us folks who can remember what that sounds like. You have a great way of presenting the positives and negatives of the albums you review. I guess I need to listen to this one now that I have some background.

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  2. ok, now that I have watched the video (which by the way is a little bit freaky but very artistic) I do recall hearing this song. Good song in a very sad angry sort of way. Do like it though and your review is on point. Nice job!

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  3. Good review. I have to disagree about "State of the Art." Oh so clever lyrics and sound. In a perfect world will outlast "Somebody I Use to Know" by an inch or two.

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