There’s a fine line between sounding atmospheric and sounding sterile on record. Unfortunately with Mirror, Mirror, Sons & Daughters’ fourth album, the music tends to lean towards the latter. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Paterson admits the band was approaching the recording from a different angle; a more minimalist direction. The band succeeds outright with their attempts in that regard, but at what cost? Few songs linger in one’s brain before searching for something else on the iPod, and the album doesn’t have the well-worn excuse of: “Well, you have to listen to it front-to-back to truly appreciate it.” Instead, Mirror, Mirror offers up a few songs of note while the rest resides in the dreaded heap of all-filler-no-killer.
Starting the album with the funeral-march-to-nowhere dirge of “Silver Spell” and the repetitive beats and lyrics of “The Model” nearly dooms Mirror, Mirror straight away. Fortunately, the doldrums of those two tracks clear the path to a truly sinister “Breaking Fun”, when Paterson takes a page from the Ian Curtis School of Emotive Singing. The breathy backing vocals from principal vocalist Adele Bethel enhance the dark track, as well as the ominous percussion courtesy of David Gow. The mood continues with “Don’t Look Now”, which deftly transitions well from power-pop into prog-pop (if there ever was such a thing). There is a fantastic final two-and-a-half minutes, consisting of a rhythm section and frightening layers of effects. These are easily the album’s highlights, with the others bearing similar repetition issues that plagued tracks one and two.
Sure, “Rose Red” is pretty good and could fit comfortably into most tracklists for 80’s New Order. “Bee Song” could mesh well with early 90’s Depeche Mode, thanks to Mirror’s mixer Gareth Jones, who had previous work with that very band. Reminders of the past are pleasant, but at the end of the day, you’ll be choosing Power, Corruption & Lies or Songs of Faith and Distortion over Sons & Daughters’ Mirror, Mirror.