Æ: Aglet Eaters

Soundpool – Mirrors In Your Eyes (2010)

Posted in Album, Review by R on June 2, 2010

I’ve had the new Soundpool record on repeat for most of the past week. At the start of the year I had no idea they were even planning on releasing an LP, so when Mirrors in your Eyes dropped, I was pleasantly surprised since I’d already been charmed senseless by On High and Dichotomies and Dreamland.

Listening to it, I think of the music critic cliché often used to describe a pleasing follow-up attempt by a band: ‘mature’. Bands ‘mature’, they develop a more ‘mature’ sound and create an album more ‘mature’ than its predecessors.

What does that even mean?

Is a band mature when it creates an album with an expertly engineered playlist crafted to ensure the songs seamlessly flow into each other like semi-set jelly? Surely not – they must need to be able to skilfully include some sort of distinction amongst the tracks – they must be able to demonstrate an ability to work with a myriad of styles and variations without faltering or appearing to be paddling hopelessly out of their depth.

I hadn’t pondered the meaning of that single word when used in the context of writing about records till I listened to Mirrors in your Eyes. I listened and then I listened again. And the I listened a few more times because I could hear something in it. I could hear maturity.

It’s easy enough to be a well-loved shoegaze band – the core sound structures of the genre are so inherently beautiful that even the most derivative ensembles can produce pieces of sheer magic. Piggybacking on influences is not a concern, it is usually welcomed and warmly rewarded. The more you manage to sound like Slowdive, the more we will love you.

Only Soundpool aren’t doing that. Anymore. They’ve abandoned the camouflage of their last albums and thrown themselves into gazer territory that I have never seen charted before:

Discogaze.

Yep, straight of the bat we’re hit hard on the head with a spinning mirrorball that establishes the album as one TO BE SHARED. This is not introspective music you beg for comfort as you to curl up in a dark corner of your barely-lit room when you’re going through one of your emo phases. This is music you haphazardly pogo stick to in the middle of a barely-lit club while psychedelic light stencils flash erratically over you and your posse.

I’d like to make an exception for ‘Makes No Sense’, however. The polish of production has significantly glossed up the version we were so far familiar with. This is a song I want to keep to myself, all to myself and not share with anyone. I love the early 90s college mixtape feel of it. I love the blissfully fuzzed out vocals. I love the guitar that crashes over Kim’s voice in the second verse – her completely incomprehensible words remaining disaffectedly stoic despite the wonderfully rude interruption. And I love the slippery hook that lasts the duration of the song manifesting itself in every facet of the song, repeating itself over and over and like some sort of white powder – sugar, salt or cocaine – leaving you craving more, leaving you positively aching to sing along, but helpless to do anything more than hit ‘repeat’.

It’s followed by a sweet little number that calls itself ‘Sparkle in the Dark’ (can’t have a gazer album without a word like ‘sparkle’ in one of the tracks). It’s the perfect comedown after its brain-blending predecessor – a thoughtfully chosen dessert wine that drops you lightly back onto the Studio 54-y dancefloor. And that’s where you remain as your night draws on. Even a song like ‘I’m So Tired’ leaves you swaying lazily, head tossed back, as you allow your body to recharge.

Incredibly comforting, ‘That Sunny Day’ propels itself along on the wheels of a semi-distant fade in/out bada-bahbah-bah-BAH hook. They must have sensed your second wind because final tracks and possible cousins ‘Shelter’ and ‘Listen’ swoop in at just the right moment offering your weary but still mobile self exceptionally shimmery melodies with beats perfectly timed to ensure you remain happily mobile and conveniently ignorant of how they’re winding you down at the end of the night.

No, no – no mopey faces. The album’s over, but remember that ‘repeat’ button you have at your disposal. I’m using mine to drown in ‘Makes No Sense’ again, but feel free to release the prismatic evening as many times as you like.

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  1. […] already seen me compose an ode to this album on here and with good reason. I love it. Soundpool sound better than ever and they […]


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