| Artist: Shadow in the Mirror|
CD Title: Friends Seem Enemies
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Following up their spectacular self-titled debut, Shadow in the Mirror's new double CD, Friends Seem Enemies, is another brilliant slice of moody, melodic, original rock. With vocals again ranging from deep Ian Curtis-esque wobbles to higher pitched wobbles to insane shouts, the Canadian duo's work lives somewhere at the intersection of Lycia, Joy Division, The Cure, Nick Cave, Nirvana, and Radiohead, a place where simple, moody post-punk collides with guttural grunge and sprawling alt rock. Featuring 23 tracks and nearly 100 minutes of music, the album's sound isn't altogether different from the band's last release, perhaps leaning more decisively towards mellower, more melodic and low-key rock, but shows more maturity and experimentation in its production.
The album's first disc is the more straightforward of the two, presenting a 12-song set that could stand alone as a single-disc album, complete with proper opening and closing tracks (the plodding, moody "Letter to a Friend" and the sparser, percussion-less "Heartstrings", respectively). "The Fixings" is a definite standout, serving as this album's "Up the Stairs", up-tempo distorted guitar and insane grunge screaming providing a welcome break from the album's fairly consistent blend of more subdued, sometimes droning moody rock. Other standouts include the beautifully dark, piano/synth-framed "Back Fate", its sound somewhere between Joy Division and Faith-era The Cure, and the spectacular "Life, Days", a 6-and-a-half-minute plodding post-punk dirge with excellent guitar melodies.
The second disc, the shorter of the two by about 4 minutes, is a bit less straightforward, featuring a few lengthier, meandering offerings, and more instrumental-oriented. That said, its 2-minute opener, "At the Walls", is one of the best tracks on either disc. "The Mood", a sprawling 8-and-a-half minute instrumental, is another highlight here, a jam that wanders between processed guitar noise, controlled melodic sections, and chaotic distorted rock. "Wed", a lovely 1-minute instrumental, is also quite memorable, as is the simple piano riff-based "Distractions". "A Friend" also closes the album on a strong note, following the same sparse, percussion-less rock formula that ended the first disc.
The album's only major flaw is that, as a double disc, it's a bit difficult to digest in one sitting, particularly accented by the fact that the second disc is a bit less coherent and partially instrumental. That said, while its 100-minute tracklisting could probably have been cut down to a more cohesive single disc without really sacrificing anything, there's not one bad or inconsequential track to be found here (save for the amusing but unnecessary "Clear", a 45-second recording of the band's vocalist clearing his throat). Overall, the songwriting and performances are excellent, and the album has a spectacular live, organic air. While it may wear out its welcome somewhere around the beginning of the second disc and, consequently, fall into the "too much of a good thing" category, it's still a fairly consistent, topnotch set with a number of excellent standouts. Highly recommended for fans of unique, moody rock and post-punk.
Shadow in the Mirror website: www.shadowinthemirror.com
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