Album: The Goon Sax – Mirror II review

by Dave Bertram

The recurring theme of three: Mirror II is an intriguing mix of psych pop, avant-garde and outsider folk

If you’re chasing an electric indie record with jarring sonic turns and piles of influences, then you’ve come to the right place. But while Mirror II – the third album from Brisbane three-piece, The Goon Sax – doesn’t boundary-push with its experimentalism, it creates a wonderful collaboration of three approaches to songwriting that pull in different directions, yet feel intrinsically connected.

Under the stewardship of  John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding, Eels), the recording process brought the trio from Australia, via Berlin, to Bristol – to weld three years of writing into a record that delivers a more progressive take on the band’s pop sensibility than the band’s last record, We’re Not Talking.

Apparent frontman Louis Forster’s quirky pop writing chimes through in opening pair: his deep, conversational tone driving over a guitar-heavy, chugging rhythm on In the Stone – the album’s most addictive and immediate cut – before the synth-led Psychic creates a bigger blast, as its heavy chords, big chorus and light, distorted guitar backdrop recalls the Jesus and The Mary Chain.

Undoubtedly, Mirror II’s strength lies in its marriage of three distinct writing voices. Riley Jones hangs her hat on a lighter, melodic, 60s girl group vibe – Tag is airy despite its mesh of avant-garde guitars and synths, and the psych-rock, Desire, with its loosely arranged musicianship feels it could fall apart and crumble at every point. While James Harrison’s wild folk strays away from the neat verse-chorus-verse format with its fretful melodies and uncomfortable chord changes that feel like they never circle back – with the Syd Barrett melodies of Temples, and the infectious album closer, Caterpillar, the cases in point.

While heaving in different directions, the parallels of loose instrumentation and off-kilter vocals that never embrace, rather than fear spiralling out of control – tonally rather than emotionally – knit this intriguing, confident and exciting third LP together.

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