Review Summary: “Black Mirror” is a solid debut from this fledgling indie-emo outfit
I find it surprising that Wayne Szalinski’s debut LP “Black Mirror” hasn’t got that much exposure, considering that their style of emo tinted math-rock is quite popular at the moment, and has been for a few years now. Though perhaps it’s because Black Mirror stands apart from its contemporaries in that it’s not really an emo record in any conventional sense of the word. While the lyrics of Black Mirror may contain oblique references to sexual uncertainty and masculinity, it lacks that awfully self-deprecating introspective feeling many bands dwell in that so often drag a debut down. Even more impressive is Wayne Szalinski’s heavy math rock slant manages to stay away from the self-indulgent noodling that so often comes with the “math” tag.
“Black Mirror” is a strange mix of emo, math rock and indie rock that strays between each almost equally. It’s catchy in a very subdued way, chilled indie riffs and math rock choruses interspersed with melodic downtime, while vocalist Andy Milad’s quivering vocals take most of the focus and are at the forefront of proceedings. For some this is a blessing and others not, it really depends on how one takes Milad’s sugary crooning as it is somewhat over the top on the appropriately titled opener “Sweetness” and strays into exaggerated angst on “Atrophy for Lethargy”. Milad’s vocals are best when he’s at his most understated, letting the catchy upbeat melodies carry along his soft singing with not too much of the limelight, such as in the softly sweet “Kiss Me In The City”.
“Black Mirror” surpasses its math rock peers in its fluidity as well, as each song meanders along gracefully, flawlessly morphing from intricate guitar driven choruses to mellifluous trumpeting on “Bandages”. Although for all the changes in tone “Black Mirror” still feels somewhat one sided. While the bouncy riffs and upbeat choruses are fun and pleasing to the ear, there isn’t enough to dig your teeth into over periods of extended time. It’s a superficially pleasing experience, sugary sweet riffs mixed with introspective musings that feel meaningful but lack any memorable tone or climax.
But if you can look past the sometimes sickly vocals and pop-emo aesthetic “Black Mirror” is a solid debut from a band that could have easily gone the wrong way. From a song-writing perspective Wayne Szalinski show a lot of potential, as “Black Mirror” feels extremely natural and confident the whole way through. But for all the fluidity and motion these tracks possess, they still tend to end up not really going anywhere. If this energy and momentum could be refined and directed in a way that allows the songs to actually build and go somewhere then Wayne Szalinski's second LP could be something truly special.