REVIEWER: Matthew J.
Best known for his antics fronting Canadian alternative rock acts Slow and Copyright, Thomas Anselmi has returned with an entirely different project inspired by, among other things, classic art films and the New York City avant-garde scene in the late '70s. Nowhere is this more evident than on "City Lights," which actually features a spoken-word cameo from underground film actor and Andy Warhol protégée Joe Dallesandro, but between Anselmi's own gentle crooning on "World of Darkness" and the rich, almost sugary arrangements of songs like "Twentieth Century," Mirror also recalls the softer side of Lou Reed's solo work. Synthpop fans will no doubt be most excited over opening track "Nostalgia," thanks to an appearance by Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan on lead vocals; with his echoing croon paired with classical piano, it shows a softer side of the usually more brooding singer, and its bittersweet orchestrations evoke an almost palpable sense of the emotion that gives the song its title. Along with the guest vocals and Anselmi himself, a number of the songs on this album feature performances from up-and-coming talent Laure-Elaine, who sings in a delicate soprano that somehow sounds both innocent and world-weary on songs like "Nowhere" and "Mirror Song," a perfect companion to sickly sweet analog synth and symphonic strings arrangements that hint at more sinister themes beneath. Among the influences on his work in Mirror, Anselmi cites Angelo Badalamenti, and if you've heard that composer's work for the television series Twin Peaks, you'll understand this album's juxtaposition of sweetness and corruption. You can enjoy the cotton candy piano and strings arrangements for their own sake, if that's where your taste lies, or you can dig deeper to find the cynical, ironic center. Either way, Mirror's debut is an unexpected masterpiece.
Visit Anselmi and friends online at www.mirror.fm.
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