Review of Mirror Mirror Album by Sons And Daughters

With distinctively moody male and female vocals singing together in harmony over a foreboding minimal accompaniment, 'Silver Spell' kick starts Sons & Daughters' fourth album exactly as they mean to go on. Other than the striking, slow-paced bass drum pound and a high pitched synth drone underpinned by a bass synth line, the instrumental blend of the opening track remains stark, frosty and empty, later cutting to purely the simple pounding drum part and maintaining a menacing, evil feel throughout. The accompaniment again remains minimal and largely dominated by drums and bass throughout 'The Model'; this solid back line is merely punctuated by guitar rather than a constant chug of harmony, and above their stark musical ground Adele Bethel takes the lead vocal with Scott Paterson providing backing vocals during later choruses. Just as in previous material, throughout Mirror Mirror Sons & Daughters blend simple vocal melodies underpinned by minimal drum and bass parts to create a moody, indie rock vibe.

There's a menacing swagger to the bass and guitar lines flanked by determined, forceful drums during 'Breaking Fun' which, like the tracks that preceded it, also has a strong and stomping beat beneath simple vocal melodies that are also interjected by machine gun-like electronic sounds. 'Orion' then continues with the same low and moody instrumental drive that entirely contrasts the delicacy of Bethel's high pitched vocal that brings to mind flavours of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it's just that Sons & Daughters lack that distinctive melodic strength and instead base their tracks on minimal chord progressions which are repetitive even barely half way into the album. 'Don't Look Now' is again led by a gruff and biting bass and guitar riff that initially captures the determination and swagger of Queens Of The Stone Age but soon washes into a blend of samey indifference and is marred by the same repetitive and perhaps self-indulgent monotony. Sons & Daughters glimpse that kind of Franz Ferdinand-esque catchy guitar riffery that could be pulled off into several strong offerings but instead they are massively diluted by repetitive harmony and a lack of distinctive vocal melody. 'Ink Free' opens with both a bass guitar and bass synth line sounding simultaneously underpinned by a pounding bass drum; a blend which continues beneath atmospheric whispered vocals. Whilst the harmony begins to move more into the chorus, the vocal melody lacks worthwhile development.

Sons And Daughters Mirror Mirror Album

With its' chugging feel, 'Rose Red' builds and falls from verse to chorus and back again as it struts forward with a cutting rock menace, gradually picking up pace along the way. 'Axed Actor' then echoes the jagged swagger of its' predecessors but again seems more to be about this potent menacing blend than discernable melody; it sounds familiar even on first listen because of its' bitty construction and lack of variety from other tracks on the album. Later, 'Bee Song' sounds whispered female vocals after a rhythmic bass drum, bass guitar and low guitar blend psychotically snaps into a louder, more brash, synth chord accompanied chorus. Whilst harmony again remains simple and unvaried, this track is more interesting because of the variety between verse and chorus; the building atmospheric suspense contrasted by the wailing, frantic chorus and, humorously, the buzzing male 'Bee Song' backing vocals.

Concluding track 'The Beach' grows from an introduction of rain and thunderstorm sounds; the track itself is initially relatively down tempo and calm in contrast to the preceding nine tracks with heavily reverbed guitar lines accompanying gentle female vocals before the gruff, edgy electric guitar struts in together with the stomping bass drum and bass guitar that have dominated much of Mirror Mirror. If this album grabs you from the off, then you'll appreciate the rest of its contents; if not, don't expect much in the way of variety and surprise. Disappointing.

Hannah Spencer

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