By Edith Freyer, Daily Arts Writer
Published January 29, 2012
Chances are that by now, you’ve seen the music video for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” With upwards of 54 million views on YouTube, the video features the Aussie singer and the New Zealand native Kimbra morphing into human paintings who spar with a striking sense of self-control and detachment. Watch for yourself — it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular.
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As it turns out, Gotye’s newly released third studio album, Making Mirrors, completely lives up to the hype created by the online sensation. Absorbed at once, the 12-song collection is a gorgeously unsettling masterpiece, yet each of the songs is strong enough to stand alone. With Making Mirrors, Gotye (pronounced “gaut-yay”) is rapidly distinguishing himself as messenger for a new kind of pop music, one less exclusively “club-ish.”
Also known as Wally De Backer, the 31-year-old produced all of the album’s songs himself — no small feat, considering the expanse of subgenres the album covers. His awesome expertise as a mixer brings each of the tracks from solid to phenomenal.
Making Mirrors opens with the title track, a minute-long venture filled with mellow brass and digital-sounding vocals. It’s markedly subdued — simplicity is key here, and that pattern continues until the final song. It’s an enigmatic start to the album.
“Easy Way Out” is enjoyably reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper,” and it transitions effortlessly into the aforementioned “Somebody That I Used to Know,” an explosive song that, amid teetering xylophone plunks and soaring harmonies, centers around the story of a painful break-up — a seemingly trite topic, which Gotye presents as something ultimately unusual, and it works.
Next up is “Eyes Wide Open,” a high-powered groove that reaffirms Gotye’s vocal strength. It churns with an energy that feels soaked in desperation and tension. “I Feel Better” steers the album in a much lighter direction — Motown influenced with a percussive twist, it’s the point in Making Mirrors when the breadth of Gotye’s versatility starts to become obvious.
Aside from “Somebody That I Used to Know,” the album’s greatest highlight is “State of the Art,” a song filled with a profound sense of humor. It includes Gotye processed through a voice changer, and a resounding, reggae bassline. It’s straightforward but riveting.
Making Mirrors ends on a sentimental note with “Bronte,” a soothing ballad with soulful undertones. Contrasting well against Gotye’s easy falsetto, it’s a beautiful finish.
This album has some major staying power, and not just because it touches on so many moods. This stuff could be good to study to, to dance to, to wind down to — you get the picture.
Not to mention, Gotye has figured out how to make attention-grabbing, dynamic pop music without all the bells and whistles. It’s sincere but substantial, and he’s the only person out there right now doing it this well. If pop music really is headed in Gotye’s direction, the future is bright.