Sons & Daughters
Release Date: Jun 14, 11
Sons & Daughters’ newest album, Mirror Mirror, is an effort to sound, at once, stripped down, atmospheric, and powerful. Take a second and read that last sentence again. Seems like those three things would be kind of difficult to do in tandem, right? Three different styles, three different aesthetics, bouncing off of each other, mirroring each other, and providing us with nothing short of a convoluted image.
On the one hand, I love the almost Sleater-Kinney-ness of lead vocalist Adele Bethel. She’s clearly talented and has that strange barely-there accent of most Scottish singers that has me hanging on every word. Unfortunately, the appeal of mimicking a great band and happenstance country of origin can only take you so far. The lyrical blandness is backed up by staunchly syncopated synths on most tracks that do neither any sort of service.
Look at a track like “Orion,” where there’s a powerfully-sung chorus, an intro bass line groove that is nothing short of sexy-as-hell, and an outro that builds and builds into a fuzzy explosion. That description right there should have you loving the song. But there are too many elements in the mix, in addition. Why cowbells? Why the flat, elementary guitar effects experimentation? Somehow, despite best intentions, Sons & Daughters manages to let the track fall on its face.
Dark, gloomy, almost-dance tracks fill out the album, harkening to some sort of mixture of The Kills meets British club vibe. Particularly incongruent and annoying is the “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” bridge in “Axed Actor.” Are you seeing a pattern here? There’s just too many things coming from too many places. Also, one should never reference the sports-arena favorite when wishing to be taken seriously.
Overall, Mirror Mirror is barely enjoyable. It’s not that it’s a bad album, there’s just no real feel to it. Simultaneous stripped and amped up, the album lacks the sort of punch in the stomach from great singles or “listen to the whole album and you’ll get it”-ness that is needed to stay in my iPod rotation. A solid effort and I appreciate experimentation, but in the end, lackluster; it falls into the cracks of disinterest despite it blaring in my headphones.