The Winning Review: Gotye
A couple of weeks ago, we asked our readers to send us their reviews of Gotye's all-conquering new lp Making Mirrors, for the chance to win a double pass to one of his sold out Melbourne shows. Here's A.P. Morton's winning review.
After gaining massive mainstream success with his single 'Somebody That I Used To Know', Gotye – oddball, genius, man of the moment – has followed up with a brilliant album in Making Mirrors, his first lp in five years.
Making Mirrors opens on a gentle, inviting note with the minute-long title track, before bursting into the fierce, glitchy 'Easy Way Out', a brief track showcasing both de Backer's unique ability to splice together different sounds and his beautiful falsetto.
Next up is the low-key, intense, building groove of 'Somebody I Used To Know', which tells the story of a scorned lover unable to deal with a pretty nasty break up. After the first chorus, de Backer brings in Kimbra, beautifully cast as his ex. What makes 'Somebody I Used To Know' work is its depth and lack of pretension, its rawness and honesty reaching the listener with full force on the first listen.
Frantic, rolling drums introduce 'Eyes Wide Open', the album's first single, its simple melody and haunting slide guitar the perfectly accompaniment to de Backer's warning of an uncertain future. As with so many tracks on Making Mirrors, the power of 'Eyes Wide Open' lies in de Backer's vocals – accessible lyrics delivered with effortless passion and emotion.
Elsewhere, 'Smoke And Mirrors' sounds like a more rounded and inviting take on Gotye's last lp, Like Drawing Blood, while 'I Feel Better' is a danceable and uplifting tribute to the classic pop of Motown and Stax, replete with blaring horns, piano and soulful lyrics.
The record's mid-section lightens the mood considerably, the poppy 'In Your Light', complete with funky strumming and soul claps, leading into the comical dub of 'State of the Art', a tribute to and a product of Gotye's $100 Lowrey Cotillion synth. Backed by cheesy beats, a synth choir and orchestra, de Backer tells us how entertaining life can be accompanied only by a cheap synth: 'Now we don't want to go out / When we could spend the night at home with the Cotillion'.
The styles keep coming: 'Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You' is a creepy little gem; 'Giving Me A Chance' is a downbeat chill-out track, a sorrowful number featuring beautifully layered bells, wine glasses, omnichord and vocal harmonies. It's the album's sad, late night apology song, and like everything else on Making Mirrors, it's delivered openly and without affectation.
Toward the end, 'Save Me' brings together some of the many styles on Making Mirrors, the big drums and bursting melodies recalling 'I Feel Better' and 'In Your Light', the electronic flourishes reminiscent of 'Eyes Wide Open'.
Closing the record is 'Bronte', a peaceful, almost-ballad that sounds like a hard goodbye to a lost loved one, the song's beautiful harmonies and gentle sound leaving the listener feeling safe and warm.