Gotye – Making Mirrors

To consider 2011 a triumph where Wally De Backer’s career is concerned would be somewhat of an understatement. Though indie-experimental connoisseurs have long-celebrated his endeavours, the extent to which De Backer’s ascension into the public eye has unfolded nevertheless appears a bolt from the blue, emerging as one of the industry’s major success stories of the year. A dynamite collaboration with Kiwi songstress Kimbra set in motion an unprecedented fanfare and the sensationalism surrounding his latest LP, Making Mirrors, has been palpable ever since. Fortunately, the album meets every expectation in style, confirming that which any number one single suggests: Gotye is back and in a big way.

Easy Way Out gifts the record a bout of impassioned grit early, its dirty riff recalling the infamous signature of The Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. The verses adopt a relaxed disposition, leaving the chorus to shine brilliantly with a slew of metallic tambourine slaps and De Backer’s silky smooth falsetto. It’s short, sweet and paves the way for the one of the nation’s most championed singles of the year.

Somebody That I Used To Know gently whispers a light, tango-inspired shuffle as De Backer’s calm, angst-ridden commentary details a bitter aftermath. When the chorus ignites, however, there’s no grace in his professed heartache, the singer-songwriter spiralling into an abrasive, accusatory, self-pitying persona. The song also offers Kimbra’s side of the story, her role in the song as the vital antithesis to De Backer’s embittered sentiments. She joins him for a second, more explosive chorus as the song reiterates its swiftly infectious melancholy. Overall, Somebody That I Used To Know presents an even-handed and wholly intriguing portrait of mutual heartache and leaves little doubt as to why it’s become so revered of late.

If Somebody depicts a sour inability to cope, then its follow-up in Eyes Wide Open illustrates a kind of acceptance, illustrating a brave foray into uncertainty. “So this is the end of the story,” cries De Backer, lost to resignation. It’s as if the listener is positioned at the tail-end of his anguish, left to wonder – as DeBacker does – what might come next. “We walk the plank with our eyes wide open,” he declares, backing vocals closely echoing the song’s powerful predecessor.

Happily, however, Making Mirrors neglects the exhausting disposition of being one huge, interconnected melodrama. The treats continue to surface though, the trippy Smoke and Mirrors providing a dreamy procession marked by an elaborate electronic haze. The track builds to a tribal thoroughfare, a dense storm of percussion ensuing. Follow-up I Feel Better turns every impression of Making Mirrors on its head as a motown-inspired gem, a rare jovial interlude shining amidst the darkness. In Your Light then recaptures a similar spirit, following a charming Jackson-5-like euphoria, before the voice-modulated State Of The Art again moves to shock in its experimentation, emerging a kooky delight. If you can imagine for a moment a hybrid of Imogen Heap, Gorillaz and Patrick Wolf, you may begin to grasp the magnitude of Making Mirrors.

Put simply, Making Mirrors is an intensely interesting body of work, De Backer running riot with his masterful brand of electronic wizardry. Ultimately, it’s remarkably difficult to pigeonhole Making Mirrors and, essentially, this very notion is all part of the record’s charm. Whether his music taps into a vein of pop or something especially quirky, Gotye, more often than not, strikes pure gold. Highly recommended.