Review : Sons and Daughters - Mirror Mirror
PopmattersThe 2000s have seen countless bands making pilgrimages to the well of post-punk for inspiration and theft. For every band like the Horrors, whose Primary Colours was a shining example of the elixir’s potency, there have been many bands like Editors who, despite success, have failed to honor the genre’s blazing originality by summoning any uniqueness of its own (the ability to make a Prefab Sprout song brutally unlistenable notwithstanding). Scotch outfit Sons and Daughters—whose previous incarnations included punky and punky with some minor commercial sensibilities—has chosen to drink forth from that post-punk well on their fourth release, Mirror Mirror. While not entirely uninventive in its approach, Mirror Mirror is far from a Primary Colours style reinvention.
Sonically, Mirror Mirror is so icy cold, male vocalist Scott Paterson’s post-punk baying so exact, one wonders whether it is all meant to be taken seriously. “Axed Actor”, a song about the infamous “Black Dahlia” murder, even contains an interpolation of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”. Such a move, particularly when it interrupts some near-comically morbid lyrics, is an affront to seriousness. A move that risks making the songs appear even more ridiculous yet actually succeeds in bringing something new to the table is the odd industrial flourishes scattered throughout the album. The buzzing in “Bee Song”—not to mention Adele Bethel’s whispered vocals—slips under the skin with ease. “Ink Free” replaces the buzzes with typewriter clacks and the menace of Bethel’s vocals is enhanced by Paterson’s backing moans, which sound like they are being sung from the bottom of that aforementioned post-punk well. First single “Breaking Fun” includes what sounds like a machine gun guitar, awarding the song an industrial edge.
However, all these sonic additions may be covers for the fact that Sons and Daughters have little of interest to say. True, opener “Silver Spell” has some interesting lines about broken bad luck and eyes drowning to floods, but songs like “The Model” result to the same tropes which are always applied to songs about looks being deceptive, with a suicide added to nail the point home. A song that does excite in terms of subject matter is “Don’t Look Now”, which is likely inspired by Nicolas Roeg’s classic thriller of the same name. While the song offers no new insight into the film, it does display some deft vocal intertwining from Bethel and Paterson, particularly on the very Ian Curtis-y shouts of “Control!”...full text
NmeWhen the astonishing curse-core minimalism of ‘Silver Spell’ first charmed our ears, it seemed to bode a dark and daring new departure for the Glasgow gang’s fourth album. It turns out to be a sly feint, sadly. Where they have branched out on this JD Twitch-produced noirfest, the cold Siouxsie And The Bansheeisms of ‘The Model’ and ‘Origin’ are less than revolutionary.
The more familiar-sounding songs, such as ‘Rose Red’, though, do sound even tamer in comparison. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t, it seems, but never sounding damned enough....full text
ThequietusAh, Sons and Daughters – they grow up so fast. Decidedly upbeat in places, 2008's Bernard Butler-produced This Gift seemed to be the sound of the Glasgow quartet making a break for the mainstream, with Motown inflections, a song with a chorus that went "na na na" and a unusually high percentage of major chords. But that record's wonderful opener, 'Gilt Complex', without doubt their most catchy and polished tune, didn’t bring in the gold chart-wise, though it did find its way into an advert for rugged hiking boots – and it's not unenjoyable to picture their manager breaking the news: "Guys, Timbaland's on the phone and he says he loved the record! What's that? Timberland the shoe manufacturer? Oh. Oh right."
Anyway. The tone of fourth album Mirror Mirror is perhaps a tacit acknowledgement that a band so fixated on singing about that classic cause of relationship break-up – we're talking about cold, bloody murder, of course – is not destined for the glories of the hit parade alongside yer Jessie Js, and so might as well get on with producing "mature and challenging" work. Reading between the lines a little, the fact that Mirror Mirror's press release claims the quartet took their first (mini) album (2003's Love the Cup) and second (2005's The Repulsion Box) as inspiration sounds like there's a wee bit of disavowal going on. Just no one tell Bernard, all right?
This time it's Glasgow legend JD 'Optimo' Twitch at the producing helm and mesmerising opener 'Silver Spell' casts him as an interesting force: out goes the indie-punk guitar template and in comes the pickaxe drumbeats, piston percussion and leaden synths, which hammer away while Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson chant out some kind of incantation, threatening: "Don't touch the cracks too much / Your eyes will sink to floods." It's Alan Garner meets The Human League and probably the most curious thing they've done....full text
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