"Lights and Offerings" (Album, 2011) !DSO Recommended!
Mirrors represent all that’s special about the uniquely English perspective on electronic pop. With their Trans Europe Express-era Kraftwerk looks, and Andy (OMD) McCluskey-style lead singer spastic dancing, this Brighton four-piece carefully choose all the right appropriations from the past. And that's even before we get to the music. Drawing heavy inspiration from the rhythmic experimentalism of Krautrock, some of the art school new wave from the early 80s, they blend it perfectly with the accessibility of English electronic pop from the same era. The results found on this, their debut album, firmly suggest their unique twist in the field of electronic pop music holds huge promise. This is no lazy reconfiguration of the former glories of their heroes, rather a distillation of things past that brought the members of Mirrors together. (Singer James New and keyboard player James Arguile had some measure of success together in their previous band Mumm-Ra.)
The titles tracks of the four singles that preceded the album, Into The Heart, Ways To An End, Hide And Seek and Look At Me are all included and represent Mirrors at their most accessible. Whereas Fear of Drowning and the ten-and-a-half-minute Secrets hint at a more ambitious, long-form vision (also witnessed on the song Lights and Offerings that curiously doesn’t appear here but does lend its title) which is where the juices really get flowing thinking about Mirrors’ potential. Somewhere Strange straddles these two ends, combining glorious early New Order/Joy Division synths with a fine example of New’s poetically incisive lyrics which gives us brilliantly memorable lines like “I see young faces seek the turnstiles of fame”. New’s voice is a major defining characteristic and asset. Though anyone ignorant of similar qualities in, say, Ian Curtis' or Alex Kapranos' (Franz Ferdinand) voices will disagree entirely.
Musically, lyrically, visually even - there’s a sense of wise old men in youthful bodies that makes you wonder if Mirrors aren’t actually pulling off some elaborate presentational hoax. They do have that look about them that young men in the 1940s or 50s had - the one that makes 25 year olds look like there in their mid 40s. The effortless combination of that yearning wistfulness (like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark at their very finest) with an acute pop sensibility that rarely comes along. And anyone left disappointed by the last OMD album can rest assured that the baton of cerebral yet danceable electronic pop has now be passed on to more exciting, younger hands. 8/10
Rob Dyer (April 2011)