The third album from Belgian-born, Australian-based multi-instrumentalist Wouter De Backer - known better by his stage name "Gotye" - was released in August 2011. Gotye is well-known in Australia, making the headlines for being the first Australian artist since Silverchair to hold the number 1 spot in both the singles and albums charts. Gotye has enjoyed massive success in the UK and America since the release of the single Somebody That I Used To Know, which has received over 80 million views on Youtube. Also, you heard it here first - he sounds a lot like Sting when he sings this song!
Eclectic - It's almost as if the album was made for this reviews site - it is a wonderfully eclectic and diverse set of tracks spanning from pop to indie, from soul to ska, from upbeat anthem to chillout tune. The format and ambition of Gotye could be likened to Peter Gabriel - not afraid to experiment with new or unusual combinations of sounds and appreciating that a diverse set of styles and instruments can combine to create something wonderful. Special mention to the third single from the album, I Feel Better, which is like a Stevie Wonder/Lionel Ritchie hybrid and it's brilliant. Lyrically, it's not deep, complex or subtle - I Feel Better just tells it like it is:
"A friendly face will bring you around and you'll feel better".
Flowing Tempo - The album also works very well as a whole - the quieter early tracks build up to the singles in the middle which move seamlessly between pop, indie and ska-influenced sounds. These tracks tread a fine line between being unusually inventive and off-puttingly unsettling - tracks such as Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You and Bronte stand apart as distinctly downbeat for a pop release but still work well on this album. They are counter-balanced by tracks like In Your Light and Save Me, which bring the upbeat feel back with glorious cheers and thumping drum beats.
The future - Although the album works very well, and several tracks stand out as modern pop gems, the lack of a coherence or "sound" does make me wonder where Gotye will go from here. How does he emulate the successful sound for future album? Having another eclectic mix is risky, as he is likely to alienate more of the mainstream audience the more he dips into other genres. Trying to create a full album of singles such as Somebody That I Used To Know and Eyes Wide Open, which are certainly the most commercially-viable, may sound slightly stale in comparison. For my part though, I'll be happy so long as Gotye keeps trying to make diverse, interesting albums that push the boundaries of pop music.
Making Mirrors really came out of the blue for me (thanks to a recommendation from my mum and brother actually).
Having the singles stuck in my head led me to try out the
rest of the album, and boy am I glad I did!
This is as eclectic and diverse a pop album as you could ever want. Still manages to have continuity between tracks even when spanning many decades and genres - this is the mark of a very talented musician.
Where Gotye can go from here though is a worry - if he deviates from diversity it may sound stale, if he mixes it up more then he might lose the majority of his audience. Only time will tell...
Videos in this review are from Youtube and are courtesy of: