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Gotye - Topic

Making Mirrors Play

Stepping out from behind the piano/drums of Melbourne indie pop three-piece the Basics for the third time, Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist Wally De Backer, aka Gotye's first solo record in five years, Making Mirrors, reveals a love of the '80s pop scene, which extends far beyond the usual influences of the current nu-synth brigade. The hugely experimental follow-up to 2006's Like Drawing Blood doesn't discriminate against other decades, as evident on the impossibly uplifting '60s retro soul of "I Feel Better," the '70s West Coast harmonies of the ethereal lullaby-like closer "Bronte," the '90s Beck-esque scuzzy garage rock of "Easy Way Out," and the 2000s hushed, claustrophobic dubstep of "Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You." But seemingly unaffected by the constant comparisons with the likes of Sting and Peter Gabriel, it's the era of early new wave, dub, and worldbeat which defines its 12 tracks. Unexpected chart-topper "Somebody That I Used to Know," a collaboration with New Zealand vocalist Kimbra, is an oddball break-up song whose stuttering rhythms, reggae hooks, and hushed vocals sound like the Police as remixed by the XX, "Smoke and Mirrors" echoes the avant-garde pop of Gabriel's So, with its pounding tribal drums, orchestral flourishes, and new age melodies, while there are also nods to George Michael's "Faith" on the acoustic gospel-pop of "In Your Light"; the impassioned Aussie rock of Midnight Oil on the ecologically themed "Eyes Wide Open," and electro pioneer Thomas Dolby on the strange, vocodered vocals, spoken word samples, and skank guitars of the trippy "State of the Art." Familiar they may be, but some credit has to go to De Backer for managing to weave these eclectic retro sounds into a cohesive affair, which proves that along with recent efforts by Art vs. Science and Architecture in Helsinki, Australia is fast becoming one of the biggest purveyors of quality experimental pop. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Like Drawing Blood Play

Assembled from a mountain of bargain-bin samples, Belgian-Australian maverick Gotye's second solo album, Like Drawing Blood, is an impressively eclectic cut-and-paste affair that suggests "the next Sting/Peter Gabriel" labels are doing him a slight disservice. Produced by Franc Tetaz (Architecture in Helsinki), the follow-up to 2003's Boardface undeniably still tips its cap to the two juggernauts of '80s world-pop, particularly on the reverb-drenched dub of "Puzzle with a Piece Missing" and the melodic AOR of "Night Drive," the latter of which ends in a clattering Phil Collins-style drum solo. But Gotye's musical brain is far too hyperactive and intelligent to simply focus his efforts on one particular type of pastiche, and elsewhere, he makes convincing forays into foot-stomping Northern soul on "Learnalilgivinanlovin," claustrophobic trip-hop on the Harry Belafonte-sampling "Hearts a Mess," and lolloping electro-funk of "Thanks for Your Time" (perhaps the best song to be inspired by the frustrations of call centers), while also venturing onto the postwar dancefloor with the instrumental Gallic waltz of "Seven Hours with a Backseat Driver" and the strutting tango of "Coming Back." However, the running times of its 11 tracks are all over the place, with the atmospheric gothic indie pop of "The Only Thing I Know" failing to sustain its early momentum over seven meandering minutes, while at the other end of the scale, the intriguing orchestral melancholy of 38-second closer "Worn Out Blues" is over before it's even begun. A little more control in the editing suite might have helped, then, but Like Drawing Blood is still an engaging and diverse affair that should see Gotye begin to shake off the constant comparisons. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
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