We’re all guilty of sharing with other people that certain experiences in our past had us, as we can best remember them, caught with “jaw dropped to the floor” — due to surprise, excitement, being caught off guard or so on. Guilty because, well, it’s usually hyperbole.
Regardless, I do not embellish when I say that my first spin through Mirror Mirror sometime last week had me in almost constant states of shock. Many, many times I caught myself — seated at my desk, doing workity work things on the job — with mouth totally open. An embarrassing amount of “whats!” crawled through my mind, one after the other, sometimes all the way to my lips, which mouthed the “whats!” with intensity.
The style switch from ruckus party This Gift to more subdued Mirror Mirror was, apparently, too much for my wee brain to handle.
I don’t know that anyone in the office caught me. But if they had, fine. They either figured me to be loony or realized they were missing out on something totally awesome.
Now Sons and Daughters’ last new one, This Gift, was, for me, one of the great albums of ’08. I’d insist on jotting down what more came out that year before saying anything too silly, but for now, because I have you, This Gift was probably top three. I couldn’t — still can’t! — get over its relentless hooks. “Gilt Complex” explodes out of the gate and then This Gift never. Looks. Back.
For the runners out there, add the album to your playlist. Your welcome.
As much as I like This Gift wholly, I do have a favorite. It’s the album’s final tune, “Goodbye Service,” which fortunately was caught on camera during a live show and posted on YouTube about three years ago.
I’ve long thought an album’s worth of variations on “Goodbye Service” would be about as great an album as music of its kind gets. At 4:37, it’s the longest track on This Gift and, really, is the only one that explores the benefit of fun, pop-rock jam seshes. “Goodbye Service” settles into a sound that eventually relies very little on words.
In a odd way, I feel we get that around the clock on Mirror Mirror. But instead of driving rock rhythms, we get understated, darkly mellow experimentation. Song run times are extended some — five, nearly seven, of Mirror Mirror’s 10 tracks eclipse the four-minute mark — and much of the album had me lose myself in its (trippy?) beats.
Perhaps our best example would be “Orion.” About half of its handful of minutes are devoted solely to playful mixing of drums, some guitars and I think cowbell. At a show, Sons and Daughters could say: “Well, we’re gonna give our 15-minute version of ‘Orion’ a try here,” and I’d probably flip a shit. (In a good way). It’s got a number of possible departure points that would make live reimaginings form interesting lives of their own.
The same is true of “Rose Red,” Mirror Mirror’s most accessible track and, I think, its best. (Perhaps because it’s the only track on the disc that may have found a home on This Gift). Its catchy hooks — and Adele Bethel’s constant oo ooos — just stick with me.
This Gift and Mirror Mirror are, stylistically, so different from one another so as to render comparison between the two nearly impossible. This Gift’s noise or Mirror Mirror’s minimalism? This Gift is, I think, the better of the two, but then again there isn’t much on Mirror Mirror that relates to it. The progression from one to the other — it may hinge on absurd, but Sons and Daughters has done it — is where the discussion should probably be.
A video trailer for the album:
That song you just heard snippets of was lead track “Silver Spell.” Here’s the whole thing:
- Hailing from Glasgow, Sons and Daughters is: Adele Bethel (vox/guitar), Ailidh Lennon (bass/mandolin), David Gow (drums) and Scott Paterson (guitars/vox).
- Mirror Mirror (CD) is available for pre-sale on Domino Recording Co.’s website for $12. Digital files are $9.99, and the LP is $18.