I came of age—in just about every meaningful sense of that term—in the 1980s. My interests, my worldview, and my aesthetic will, I guess, always have an 80s vibe. In fact, God willing, I’ll still be rocking out to Guadalcanal Diary when I’m in the nursing home.
Apparently, I won’t be alone.
Gotye is the project of Wouter De Backer, a Belgian-Australian songwriter and multi-instrumentalist musician. Making Mirrors is his third album, but—thanks to my album club—it’s the first that comes to my attention. And though De Backer was himself born in the 1980s (gulp!), it’s obvious that he’s wallowing in the sound and feel of that decade as much as I still am. In fact, nearly every review seems to compare his sound to Peter Gabriel, early-solo Sting, or, for gosh sakes, Hall & Oates. It’s easy to see why.
Yes, nearly every track on Making Mirrors sounds like something you might’ve heard on the radio in, oh, 1985. Is that a good thing? For me, of course, the answer is yes. Is that the sign of a mature artist—or, for that matter, a mature listener? You tell me.
The first couple of tracks on Making Mirrors (a wee title track and “Easy Way Out”) certainly had me thinking of a certain breed of 80s-era “experimental” rock. Oh, hell, I just say it: The songs had me thinking Peter Gabriel-esque thoughts. From there, though, the album moves into other terrains. Other 80s-style terrains, anyway. “I Feel Better” evokes late Motown. “Eyes Wide Open” is a little INXS-ish. “State of the Art” is early techno—if one can still produce “early” techno in the 21st century. I’m thinking Gotye can.
Gotye has some real range here. Making Mirrors is a tour of the 80s. And that’s a tour I’ll always sign up for.
“Somebody That I Used to Know” is the standout on the album. De Backer’s vocals on the track—about lost love, naturally—will probably have you thinking of Sting. De Backer usefully pairs his vocals with those of Kimbra, a New Zealander who, I swear, sort of reminds me of a cross between Kate Bush and Bonnie Tyler. I just can’t stop with the 80s references! Whatever—”Somebody” has a great sound. It’s the song that’s going on my iPod.
On a scale of one to 10, Making Mirrors gets a seven.