Making Mirrors, home of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” powerhouse of indie experimentation, and Australian. Is there anything better to jam to after a break up than this album? (Well, at least three more albums, but this is still one of my main jams). But there is so much more to the album than the addictive sadness of the hit (and unfortunately a pinch overplayed) single.
This album begins with the eponymous track “Making Mirrors,” which, in its minute-long run time, invites the listener into a very philosophical, Lewis Carroll-esque world where we create the looking glass through which we see darkly. This turns into a brilliant run of painful songs of loss told from multiple angles (did he run away in “Easy Way Out” and then face the scenario of “Somebody That I Used to Know” only to realize that we ‘walk the plank’ daily in “Eyes Wide Open,” then dissolve into self-loathing in “Smoke and Mirrors”?). It’s a beautiful run.
When my friend Nick was describing his impression of this album to me, he said, “It starts out like it’s going to be this great breakup album, and then suddenly, it’s so much more.” The turning point, of course, is the 80s-power-balads (as my friend Steph described them) “I Feel Better” and “In Your Light.” Following these tracks, Gotye questions technology’s impact on relationships and society (and, of course, music) in the science fictional songs “State of the Art” and the especially spooky “Don’t Worry, We’ll Be Watching You.” After our musical glimpse into Big Brother, Gotye reminds us of what it means to be human in “Giving Me a Chance,” “Save Me” and “Bronte” (Sometimes, if I’m very emotional, I cry during one of these songs).
In all, Making Mirrors is a powerful reflection of humankind in relationship with human kind — we are broken and we hurt each other, but we have an infinite capacity for love and beauty.
So let’s check it against my standards as a good album to listen through post-breakup.
I have already mentioned the balance of lament and power-balad. I think it’s a perfect blend. Not to mention the overt spiritual overtones in “In Your Light” and “Save Me.” I don’t know what Gotye’s religious affiliation is, or if he even has one, but these songs bring a divine light to the mortal suffering of man. And, personal beliefs aside, divinity is comforting (“And when you’re smiling on me, that is all I need to put behind me all my worry and life’s complexities. It may be only a moment, but the world just falls away, and I forget myself and everything else that depressed me yesterday”). Personal beliefs not aside, divinity is the only standard by which we can understand humanity, and I am so glad that Gotye incorporates this into Making Mirrors.
Even when going through something that seems as trivial as “just a break up” (which could actually be a really big deal, depending on the relationship; mine was), knowing that you are not in control, but Someone Else is (God) releases and eases so much of the emotional crap. Believing that there is a plan and a purpose to your pain makes it so much easier to deal with.
Side note, I love that “In Your Light” is followed immediately by “State of the Art;” we idolize so many things, and they will not give us the comfort and peace we need.
Making Mirrors is a complex and mature album that deals with several different concepts of love, humanity, God, and materialism. And the music’s good, too. The songs range from sophisticated to synthesized, and they transition not only thematically but musically from one track into the next. The biggest skips in style appear in the transitions of theme (a stylistic move to emphasize the change of theme?), but they aren’t painful to listen to. Rather, they are intriguing, and you’re left thinking, “Wasn’t I listening to this kind of creepy, echoey, song a moment ago? Why does it sound like 1987 right now?”
And it deals with themes beyond just the break up experience. Still, I think this is pivotal for me in assessing an album as a good break up album (by that, I mean, good to listen to after a break up, not an album full of music about getting dumped/dumping someone)
All in all, Making Mirrors is a brilliant album that deserves to be listened to. Instead of getting stuck on “Somebody That I Used to Know” on repeat, do that song and the rest of the songs on this album justice by giving it a listen. Especially, but not limited to, after a break up.