It is a favorite pastime of more "serious" music critics to turn their noses up in cynical dissatisfaction at "pop" music. If music can be enjoyed by everyone, can it really be worth listening to? Despite what the Pitchforks of the world might want you to believe, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Think back to the unbridled wonder and joy you got when hearing "God Only Knows" growing up. It's arguably the most beautifully composed love song and pop song of all time, but it's universally known melodies and lyrics belie an inherent complexity to Brian William's songcraft as a true genius at his prime. Australian electronic pop artist Gotye
is more George Michael than Brian Williams, but make no mistake, his newest LP, Making Mirrors
is one of the most fun and intelligent pop records in years.
From the opening ambient effects of the title track, you know you're in for something entirely different. When the percussive beats and electronic rhythm of "Easy Way Out" suddenly segue in, you're left wondering if you're suddenly listening to a different artist. Making Mirrors
is an album of surprising ambition with an almost unparalleled ear for combining the passionate, self-aware pop of the 1980s with modern electronic textures and intense, often dark lyricism. Gotye can shift in and out of a tremulous falsetto to a scorching tenor unleashing his anguish and emotion over every note of his songs. He combines electronic progressive jazz with dance club beats and wraps it in a hook-driven lyricism that means you will remember the words to nearly every song on the album.
The album isn't lacking for stand-out tracks. It starts out strong and remains so until the CD comes to a close. "Somebody That I Used to Know" has become an international hit, and it's only a matter of time before America is put under Gotye's spell as well. "Smoke and Mirrors" matches the jazz tendencies of the album with enough horns and hooks to be the dark horse favorite of the album. It doesn't hurt that it's arguably the album's strongest track lyrically. "Save Me" transforms Gotye's sound into what can only be called the electronic pop equivalent of arena rock because of its inherently anthemic and enveloping sound. This might be one of the most accessible albums to come out of the relatively unknown scene so far this year, but it remains one of the most consistently entertaining. Making Mirrors
might be for the masses, but even "serious" music fans will find more than enough to love about this album.