Gotye is the brainchild of Wouter “Wally” De Backer. I know quite the name right. Anyway, he isn’t exactly new on the scene, but his music has really begun to take off as of late. I won’t try to lie about my experience with his material. I really only just recently found out about him, and I really didn’t want to buy into the hype right away. I feel like this happens with a lot of bands the media starts to grab onto. I first heard them on satellite radio. I’ve found that satellite is a good way to experience some bands that your wouldn’t normally choose to listen to. It’s the real reason I decided to start to give Florence and the Machine a chance, and the same seems to go for Gotye as well. The final straw that got me to download the album was watching Gotye perform on Jimmy Kimmel. This is a similar thing that sold me on tUnE – yArDs for sure as well. It’s something about watching a band truly in their element that makes you really appreciate them. Plus, in both situations, I was really impressed with the voices that came out of both performers.
After watching the performance on Kimmel, I decided I had to look into this band a bit more. I was really impressed with their delivery, and De Backer had such an interesting stage presence. It was somewhat awkward and intense at the same time. I was really surprised to find out that Gotye is actually one musician. I’m amazed at the inventiveness of these artists who produce complicated and intriguing music all on their own. I thought, with the all of the instruments and sounds involved here, it had to be in collaboration with other artists to create something so interesting. I have a feeling it only speaks to my lack of creativity.
Making Mirrors is not the first release of Gotye, but it is the release he has received the most widely spread critical acclaim for. After my few experiences with the music, I felt compelled to finally download the album and check out what was going on here. I thought I’d be listening to something really low key and reserved; however, I was really pleased with how he manages to have quite a few different styles involved in here. He has just about every tempo possible.
The single off the album, “Somebody That I Used to Know”, is actually a great song for him to feature first. It really displays his ability to be both quiet and boisterous all at once. I think I would fit this song somewhere in the middle of the tempo situation that he has on the album, but it definitely starts off displaying some of his more low key material. His voice is melodic at this part, while he manages to sound rather reserved and quiet. The chorus, on the other hand, allows him to show off his singing chops. Having seen this performed on Kimmel, I have to tell you he can really sing. He hits notes I would never be capable of reaching (not that I can actually sing), but he really shows the nice dichotomy between the full force of his voice and his low key capabilities. I really appreciate the addition of Kimbra in the song as well. Their voices definitely work well together.
Gotye has quite a few other rather low key songs on the album as well. I’m not really a huge fan of the quieter material. I think he is at his best when he showing off the full quality of his singing voice, but I think the quieter material really makes you appreciate the more uptempo material more. “Making Mirrors” is a very short and low tempo song that opens up the album. I like this as an opener as it leads into a more upbeat song. It actually really works as an intro, and his singing takes a complete back seat here anyway. “Don’t Worry We’ll be Watching You” is another low key song that is driven by a heavy electronic beat. It is a little creepy in nature. The lyrics say things like “What’s Your Name”, “Do What We Say”, and “We Won’t Hurt You”. While it could be almost boring, the really creepy atmosphere it creates keeps it very interesting. “Bronte” is the only slow song I really haven’t been able to get on board with. It ends the album, but for some reason, I just can’t find myself really latching on to it. I would have liked to see the album end on a slightly higher note.
I think Gotye’s next single has to be one of his more uptempo songs. He has a really good ability to use his voice in a way that works great with material that is far more happy than some of his quiet material. “In Your Light” is one of my favorite songs off the album. It has a great 80’s Wham!/George Michael’s feel to it. He really has the synthesizer and horn section working hard in the song for sure. It definitely will send you back in time, but it’s really refreshing and poppy. I would only be slightly scared of Glee getting a hold of it. “I Feel Better” takes the feeling even father back to a slightly Motown/Jackson 5 feel. I can definitely picture him performing this one with some back up singers on the Johnny Carson show. There are definitely other really good upbeat songs on the album as well, but these two really stick out to me as great songs.
One other thing that Gotye does surprisingly well to mix it up on his album is the heavy use of electronics in some music. While a lot of the songs contain some aspect of electronics, two of them really stick out to me as great examples of his abilities in this regard. “Easy Way Out” harkens back to an earlier stage in Beck’s catalog. Gotye does a great job of restraining his voice and keeping it rather monotone in the verses. The electronic beats drive the song, but he does allow his falsetto skills break in on the chorus. “State of the Art” might be the most different song on the entire album. It is almost completely driven by electronics. There are some tight drums that I believe are electronic, some horns that help spice it up, and De Backer’s voice is actually digitalized in this song. It sounds kind of like a man singing with that voice change feature for people in witness protection. It’s a really different feel from the rest of the album. It definitely isn’t my favorite song, but I appreciate the variety it adds to the entire composition.
Gotye is only going to continue to blow up as more of his songs get released. His album has some really good variety to it, so if you don’t really like the first single from Gotye, you really need to load up his album on Spotify and check out a few of the other songs I talked about.
Teacher Grade: A+