Under Review: Sons & Daughters – Mirror Mirror

There’s an instrument you won’t find listed on the liner notes of Mirror Mirror, the fourth album by Glasgow’s Sons & Daughters: tension. My guess is that the pervasive sense of dread that hangs over the album cannot be attributed to any one member, so they should really all receive credit. Unlike its immediate predecessor, This Gift, Mirror Mirror is a skeletal and difficult record. As This Gift employed a sleazy ‘60s tone, Mirror Mirror’s pace rarely escalates to anything faster than a crawl. Though Adele Bethel remains the definite leader of the band, guitarist Scott Paterson’s vocal presence is much heavier than on previous outings. The pair doesn’t exactly harmonize, but they do trade off lines and double each other’s voices for a few key choruses. For those aching to hear the band continue the style of This Gift, only “Rose Red” approaches that album’s more playful atmosphere. The rest of the album is almost frustratingly spacious. Opener “Silver Spell” sounds like tracks from the sessions were clipped out before the final cut, and “Ink Free” puts radio static and typewriter clicks to rhythmic use.

Sons & Daughters haven’t really amassed anything more than a devoted cult following (outside their home country, that is). Mirror Mirror sounds a bit like an attempt to lure some of The Kills’ fans into Sons & Daughters’ camp. Bethel and Paterson’s interplay sounds more like Alison Mosshardt and Jamie Hince’s than ever before, and the sparse soundscapes on songs like “Bee Song” recall a more fragile take on The Kills’ gritty garage rock. With Mirror Mirror, Sons & Daughters have let some of the great promise they showed the last time around slip through their fingers. They remain an interesting group worth paying attention to, but the new compositions are more alienating and off-putting than alluring. Mirror Mirror sounds like the kind of album that Sons & Daughters would’ve made before their breakthrough, not after; and they’re not yet at a point where a ‘return to form’ is a welcome thing. If their aim is to change with each album, then all the more power to them. Even with that ambition, though, it’s hard to ignore that Mirror Mirror simply doesn’t work very well.

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~ by E. on July 6, 2011.

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