Gotye's “Making Mirrors” is such a genre-bender, it hardly makes sense to understand the music listening track by track. Australia is sure familiar with one of the tracks, though, as “Somebody That I Used to Know” has peaked at #1 for five weeks, hence the 5+ million Youtube views on the video. The attention is deserved, as the marvelously poppy, passionate, yet still slightly and delightfully weird track is a masterpiece. Building out of a breakup, a confused and wounded Wally De Backer goes toe-to-toe with New Zealand singer Kimbra in one of the year’s best tracks.
The goodness does not stop there on “Making Mirrors”, one of the most fantastically strange albums of the year. And by strange I don’t mean purely experimental. I mean strange in that the genres here are so all over the place, but also so marvelously executed. Hearing “Somebody That I Used to Know” may lead you to believe you’re about to hear a pop album, but contrast that against the pulsating, moving alt rock on “Save Me”, the soul of “I Feel Better”, or the electro touch on “State of the Art”. Truly, it is almost unbelievable that the same person is responsible for both the soaring “Eyes Wide Open” and the acoustic guitar-based “In Your Light”.
What is impressive on “Making Mirrors” is how Gotye stream together all these tracks in a manner that works. Granted, on some tracks he is more successful than others. “Save Me” wears its heart on its sleeve, with De Backer bearing his anxieties in his soul with a soaring tenor. “Giving Me a Chance” takes it down a level, stripping the sound down to its most beautiful, simple level. However, “State of the Art”, despite its interesting sound, employs a computer-aided vocal that is downright unpleasant. Meanwhile, “Don’t Worry We’ll Be Watching” meanders along for a meaningless 3 minutes. The missteps are few and far between.
Here’s an album that came out of nowhere for me, despite Australia’s apparent penchant for it. “Somebody That I Used to Know” and “Save Me” alone will end up being two of 2011’s best, if you’re more interested in spending $2 than $10. But if you want to try something new, here’s a good place to start.