Drowse
Light Mirror


4.0
excellent

Review

by ButtBoy USER (5 Reviews)
June 11th, 2019 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One step further removed from reality

It’s clear from the waking chimes and pianos that Light Mirror is not a medium for celebrating life’s pleasantries and victories. Those familiar with Drowse would expect no less, of course. Portland’s Kyle Bates, the sole member, tends to let the somber notes do the talking while bouts of fog smother his shadowy soundscapes and loosely-stitched stories. As with 2018’s Cold Air, these songs too seem to stumble around in the twilight while attempting to illuminate thoughts and anecdotes that interact but are not strictly intertwined. The ever-shifting yet consistent atmosphere could almost fool you into believing this is a concept album, though Bates’ trains of thought may as well be ‘concept’ enough.

“Between Fence Posts” and “Shower Pt. 2” revive familiar sounds to Drowse’s repertoire: an abundance of tinkering, ringing, fuzz, and phantom-like vocals that feel as if they’re floating all around you. “Bipolar 1” gracefully envelopes the listener in a dark autumn haze reminiscent of certain takes from Slowdive’s Pygmalion, without explicitly mimicking or stealing from their book. It’s also hard to not draw comparisons with neighboring act Mount Eerie in the record’s various passages of lo-fi acoustic ruminations and quirky production.

The opening trio tricks the audience into thinking that this journey will trace the same path as Bates’ previous outings, but the second act begins to defiantly stray from that path. “Physical World” successfully fights tooth and nail to be the standout track of the album. A few minutes into the standard fare, all the instruments and noises begin to flee in cowardice as if something more powerful and dangerous is looming on the horizon. It conjures the same aura as the mountain-dwellers’ reactions to the awakening of the Balrog in the depths of the Misty Mountains. An authoritative, tribalistic pounding clears the way for an eerie bassline that unravels into the song’s complete and unrestrained psychotic breakdown. The madness seamlessly transitions into an 80s synth-laden interlude that only continues the trend of breaking Drowse norms.

There are times in the back half of Light Mirror where songs tend meander too long and either overstay their welcome or conclude without contributing anything of real substance to the work as a whole. Bates has drawn light criticism for this habit in the past, as some of his better ideas fail to materialize into something full and meaningful. Those seldom tracks turn into vacuums in the album’s runtime, where minutes quietly disappear without being noticed. But even then, they continue to provide a consistent atmosphere that, at the very least, string the more potent songs together.

“Betty” is the final fully fleshed-out track and is one of the most coherent and accessible songs under the Drowse moniker. The uncharacteristically optimistic guitar and breathtaking vocals soar upwards arm-in-arm to reach the emotional peak of the record, as the words are uttered, “Do you remember showing me where sky meets lake; Watching you watch the light fade, I knew we felt the same ache.” The last page flips much like the first – with nothing but ambience and curiosity – only this time less foreboding and more content. The title of the track itself is stylized with quotes: “Don’t Scratch the Wound.” By doing this, he not instructing the listener, but rather recounting and passing along a reminder that he was probably given at some point along the way.

And so the notes and daydreams float around like butterflies, not wanting to be caught just yet. They nearly fall into the writer’s jar themselves at times, only to realize that stability and finality is something that always eludes to some extent. The next time we are given a glimpse inside this inquisitive mind, I suspect they’ll still be up there, fluttering around in blissful disarray.


user ratings (25)
Chart.
3.6
great
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recommended by reviewer
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Slowdive Pygmalion


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
June 11th 2019


9615 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yay somewhere to discuss this tasty morsel.

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luci
June 11th 2019


11188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great record, slightly stronger than the last one. their music might be depressive but it's a dreamy melancholy, feels like an analgesic

ButtBoy
June 11th 2019


3482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know! I've spun it 5 or 6 times at this point, I'd say it resonates more with me than Cold Air did

Hawks
June 11th 2019


71910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn I gotta hear this.

Digging: State Faults - Clairvoyant

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 11th 2019


31211 Comments


This sounds right up my alley. Thanks for reviewing this.

Digging: Bad Books - III

ButtBoy
June 11th 2019


3482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I honestly had both of you in mind while writing this. Let me know what you think!

parksungjoon
June 11th 2019


9571 Comments


yooo

TwigTW
June 11th 2019


3772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

At first I thought this was a step down from the last one, but not so sure anymore.

ButtBoy
June 11th 2019


3482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I felt that at first, the opener really failed to grab me. But it has grown, along with the rest. I think the best songs here beat the best songs on Cold Air (maybe with the exception of Klonopin)

Pikazilla
June 11th 2019


818 Comments


Very well-written review!

ButtBoy
June 11th 2019


3482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks pika :-)

madrigal30
June 11th 2019


193 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well written review for a sick album

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hansoloshotfirst
June 11th 2019


1359 Comments


last one was tasty , will give it a shot tonight.

Digging: Urfaust - Ritual Music for the True Clochard

Hawks
June 11th 2019


71910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Getting on this now. m/

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2019


16168 Comments


Cool review dude, jamming now.

AsleepInTheBack
June 12th 2019


5994 Comments


Lovely review, you've sold me on this

ButtBoy
June 12th 2019


3482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks fellas! Hope I didn’t oversell it haha. It’s a pleasant listen to get lost in.

AsleepInTheBack
June 12th 2019


5994 Comments


You oversold it :'(

I felt drowsy listening to this, which may be the point, but eh, I'm trying to work

ButtBoy
June 12th 2019


3482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeahhh I mean it's shoegaze! Gotta be in the right mood for it

AsleepInTheBack
June 12th 2019


5994 Comments


Indeed, I wont pass judgement on this until I've given it another go. There are certainly lovely textures and tones in the mix.



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