Sons and Daughters: Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror just comes and goes with little emotional resonance, its greatest modes of discomfort being the musical equivalent of a haunted house's creaky floorboards.

Sons and Daughters

Mirror Mirror

Label: Domino
US Release Date: 2011-07-12
UK Release Date: 2011-06-13
Artist Website

The 2000s have seen countless bands making pilgrimages to the well of post-punk for inspiration and theft. For every band like the Horrors, whose Primary Colours was a shining example of the elixir's potency, there have been many bands like Editors who, despite success, have failed to honor the genre’s blazing originality by summoning any uniqueness of its own (the ability to make a Prefab Sprout song brutally unlistenable notwithstanding). Scotch outfit Sons and Daughters -- whose previous incarnations included punky and punky with some minor commercial sensibilities -- has chosen to drink forth from that post-punk well on their fourth release, Mirror Mirror. While not entirely uninventive in its approach, Mirror Mirror is far from a Primary Colours style reinvention.

Sonically, Mirror Mirror is so icy cold, male vocalist Scott Paterson’s post-punk baying so exact, one wonders whether it is all meant to be taken seriously. "Axed Actor", a song about the infamous "Black Dahlia" murder, even contains an interpolation of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". Such a move, particularly when it interrupts some near-comically morbid lyrics, is an affront to seriousness. A move that risks making the songs appear even more ridiculous yet actually succeeds in bringing something new to the table is the odd industrial flourishes scattered throughout the album. The buzzing in "Bee Song" -- not to mention Adele Bethel’s whispered vocals -- slips under the skin with ease. "Ink Free" replaces the buzzes with typewriter clacks and the menace of Bethel’s vocals is enhanced by Paterson’s backing moans, which sound like they are being sung from the bottom of that aforementioned post-punk well. First single "Breaking Fun" includes what sounds like a machine gun guitar, awarding the song an industrial edge.

However, all these sonic additions may be covers for the fact that Sons and Daughters have little of interest to say. True, opener "Silver Spell" has some interesting lines about broken bad luck and eyes drowning to floods, but songs like "The Model" result to the same tropes which are always applied to songs about looks being deceptive, with a suicide added to nail the point home. A song that does excite in terms of subject matter is "Don't Look Now", which is likely inspired by Nicolas Roeg’s classic thriller of the same name. While the song offers no new insight into the film, it does display some deft vocal intertwining from Bethel and Paterson, particularly on the very Ian Curtis-y shouts of "Control!"

As cold and impersonal as post-punk may seem, at its best it still manages to hit a very deep nerve. Mirror Mirror just comes and goes with little emotional resonance, its greatest modes of discomfort being the musical equivalent of a haunted house's creaky floorboards. Overall on Mirror Mirror, Sons and Daughters sound like they are borrowing from the Interpol version of post-punk rather than the real thing. This seems like as good a warning as any that the original well needs some replenishing. Thank goodness the Horrors are releasing a new album soon.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.