EG Vines is loud and proud. The Nashville rocker has strong opinions about a host of contemporary topics. He lets you know what he thinks in a bold voice accompanied by a feedback-heavy electric guitar line. All Vines demands are world peace, true love, and meaningful work. Why is that too much, he wonders and forcefully expresses his frustration through volume and other sonic tactics. There will be enough time to be quiet when he’s dead.
Vines understands that he’s complicit in the whole mess, but he refuses to take responsibility for it. “I’m the king of the rat race,” he declares, “I am just a rat, you say.” The world may be a maze. That doesn’t mean the rewards at the end aren’t worth the effort or that the actions aren’t their own reward. “But I am still the king of you,” he reminds the listener. He’s still in charge. You don’t like it, stop playing the music. However, Vines knows he’s got you hooked. His music is the magnet that draws you into the mousetrap.
The songs’ narrators on Through the Mirror range from murderers to peaceniks. They primarily live inside their heads and feel guilty one minute and innocent the next. As Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Vines wants one to experience a variety of consciences. We can justify our behavior. As rational beings, we can rationalize anything. He knows the thrill of the ride is more important than any intellectualizing afterward. Join him for the journey. He takes on the role of “The Royal Diplomat”, who bangs his head against the wall into it bleeds, trying to get people to join together. It’s just a matter of time until he’s thrown out of the proceedings.
That’s because no matter what side one is on, one has to take sides. On the record’s best cut, “Them”, Vines laments that we shut out the information that doesn’t conform to our world views and turns others into the other in the most polarizing sense. Or as he colorfully puts it, “Democrat, Republican / It’s written on my face again / It’s blue and red / So black and white has taken over everything…if you’re not with us / Then you’re Them.” It’s sung in an angry voice over a New Wave beat reminiscent of the first three Elvis Costello albums. This matters in a world where the powerful keep their place, babies die, and mothers cry.
If Vines doesn’t see the world clearly enough, it’s not his fault. He’s got “Meat Over His Eyes” that blocks out the answers. One has to try not to think. Then again, Vines is hopeful. He’s waiting for extraterrestrials to come back to Earth and rescue us to a tune that purposely recalls David Bowie’s “Loving the Alien”. If humans can’t create peace on the planet, maybe those from somewhere else can show us the answer. And there are potentially so many of them. Vines observes that there are too many stars in the sky to count. Any of them could contain systems where intelligent life exists. In the meantime, until we come together, we can look to the skies.