(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CD review - Unicycle Loves You, Mirror, Mirror (2010)

Mirror, Mirror bounces back and forth, from one reflection to another. On the one side, Unicycle Loves You plays pretty electro pop. Then, that rebounds into post-punk/power pop. Radio length songs are matched by odd, experimental interludes. This gives the album a fragmented feel, but many of the pieces are shiny and interesting.

Unicycle Loves You has dropped back to basics for their sophomore effort. Mirror, Mirror was self produced after shrinking the band down to a trio. Jim Carroll (guitar, keys, vocals), Nicole Vitale (bass, vocals), and J.T. Baker (drums) haven't thinned down the sound, however. The arrangements scatter plenty of sonic elements throughout the songs.

The album has a retro sound that harks back to the '80s and early '90s -- bits of Modern English and Psychedelic Furs are in there with the poppier sounds of Tom Tom Club. There's a Giant Walking in My Heart nails this pop aspect, while Justine captures that Modern English sound. Justine is guitar driven, but there are plenty of keyboard sounds lurking around the edges. The sound is fairly low fi, with a cheery beat that contrasts with the threatening feel of the vocals and lyrics.

Justine actually flows out of my favorite bit on Mirror, Mirror. The Wickedest Man in San Francisco is one of the snippet interludes. Choppy bass meets a distracted guitar riff. It flip flops between an ominous pensiveness and a brighter psychedelia. Then, it slides into a more intense psychedelic sounding bridge. But wait, it's actually an outro. This section sets the stage for a more epic song, but then the track is over. It's frustrating to hear such a promising musical idea be cut so short.

The title cut has shimmery, echoed vocals. It sounds so familiar: there's some of the sweet sound of Voice of the Beehive, but more detached... maybe there's a hint of the Bangles, too. But the music has a hazy aspect that gets more interesting as the background noise level builds. A summery lethargy permeates the track.

With that, I'll toast ULY with a mint julep, a drink that goes well with their summer soaked sound. Mirror, Mirror is due out on September 7 on Highwheel Records.

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