The newest release of Chicago’s seemingly endless supply of indie-pop groups is Mirror, Mirror by Unicycle Loves You. They have another release that I have not heard, and have cropped themselves down from a quartet to a trio for this record. On their website they say they get influences from cult horror films and science fiction. Aside from some interesting harmonies on a lot of tracks, I do not hear these at all.
Instead what I hear is a combination of a lot of bands I’ve been listening to lately. The first to hit me was Stars. I’ve been listening to Five Ghosts a ton as of late, and I was immediately reminded of that album when Mirror, Mirror kicked off in earnest. The band carries an attitude that reminds me of the Los Campesinos! album, Romance is Boring. And the male vocalist has a voice that reminds me quite a bit of We Are Scientists, especially in his phrasing and timing. I also got a bit nostalgic for Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” on the album’s title track.
The way that Unicycle Loves You is able to propel itself above being just another indie-pop band is by recognizing that they have certain things in common with these other bands I’ve mentioned, so they are able to move things forward. Rather than resting on their laurels, comfortable in the notion that they can easily make a record just as good as a band like Stars, they experiment with new synths, vocoders and other effects to achieve a sound both familiar but otherworldly.
Never is this more apparent than the track “Teenage Ghost House.” The beginning of the track has the musical cues of an INXS song from the mid-’80s, but it quickly shifts into a contemporary song more in line with a ethereal version of Passions of Being Pure At Heart than a Buzz Ballad group.
I’d be very interested to see how a live Unicycle Loves You show goes down. There is so much going on in the background that I find it hard to imagine it can be pulled off at full quality in a live setting. But maybe it can. I felt similarly about The Joy Formidable a couple weeks back, and they ended up killing it live.
I definitely recommend checking out Mirror, Mirror. The music is good. Very good. I’m hesitant to say great because it does sound like so many other things to me; but that’s also one of the reasons I like it, so I don’t know. Buy it and decide for yourself. I’m not your father. I can’t tell you what to like and what not to like.
But if you want my paternal wisdom, you should probably enjoy it. So buy more than one copy and we’ll all go to Six Flags this summer!!
- Unicycle Loves You, of Chicago, is: Jim Carroll (vocals/guitar/keys), Nicole Vitale (vocals/bass) and J.T. Baker (drums).
- Mirror, Mirror is available via Highwheel Records for $12 (CD).
“Mirror, Mirror” official music video