If you have a glimpse of this weeks UK Top 40, youll find it very difficult to spot musicians that even feature guitars on their tracks, never mind those who consciously defy the industry conventions and release something truly genre-shattering. Progressive and perhaps experimental bands are far-too often overlooked for the simplistic, marketable few who churn out flash-in-the-pan monotonous melodies under a whirlpool of trendy hype. Dundee outfit The Mirror Trap know only too well just how steep and winding the hypothetical hill they, and many bands like them, have been climbing in order to make a name for themselves, and their frustrations are openly evident. “We have sent out demos, sent literally hundreds of emails, 99% of which remain unanswered, played an insane amount of gigs in every Scottish city, written an insane amount of songs and practice a minimum of twice a week, every week. I genuinely dont think there is a harder working band unknown in the country,” lead singer Gary Moore states.
The Mirror Traps exasperation is clearly a result of the overall lack of response given how much hard work theyve put into creating and exhibiting their music, and there seems to be very good reason for that. “We have always refused to be part of any fad or scene, but have taken numerous influences and tried to create something new and exciting,” he continues. The decision to break out of the musical indie mould has been a deliberate one and has worked both for them – in their sovereign sound – and against them – in their efforts to become well-known. Fortunately, their long awaited debut album The Last Great Melodrama is released next month, and a few of the tracks have demonstrated their potential as well as highlighted the difficulties of having such an autonomous sound.
Broken Crown is carried by an extremely melodious hook, with Moores vocals labouring through the first three minutes of the song, ranging from an exhausted strain to high-pitch plead. The song has a frantic, anguished sound and it isnt until three minutes in where The Mirror Trap come into their own. The final chorus of wont you ride with me/to a safer place is uttered with torment, and the final line, I just want to start again! has Moore erupting into a piercing, ferocious scream before
vibrant backing vocals melodically carry the song through to its end. This brief thirty seconds encapsulates The Mirror Traps uniqueness and potential, and they should perhaps take note of where their strengths lie.
They slow things down with My Alabama after its initial guitar riff, and Moores verses are sung faintly alongside muted guitar picking. His voice is far derived to that present in Broken Crown; the drifting hazy vocals singing Is this the happiness/ Youve always talked about resembling that of Snow Patrols Gary Lightbody. Broken up with unnecessary yelling backing vocals, the track picks up tempo towards the end, introducing warped synths before a quick finish. Somehow the track manages to sound like two different songs, and the first part of it was definitely the more accomplished of the two.
Fortunately their single White Rabbits, which is released in two weeks, is significantly more succinct. The familiar-sounding first couple of lines, Im giving up my life/to someone elses dreams arrive quickly, with Moores Scottish accent escaping in between the tenaciously-executed repeated chorus of I push my chest out/I am a man now/I push my chest out because/ I am the last survivor. Their relentless chorus contains a staccato rhythm combined with elements of both rock and pop; part Detroit Social Club, part Bloc Party, they utilize the synths to maximum effect and slip into a sinister crescendo towards the end of the track that would lead you to think the song was ominously, but brazenly, recorded in an old decrepit church on Halloween.
Out of the four tracks currently available, Pulse undoubtedly conveys The Mirror Traps aptitude and potential the greatest. Moore drawls through his lyrics at ease, matching the slow, sauntering pace of the drum rhythm. The combination of the reverberated dark synths and broken chorus of stop/hands/breathe! could easily be lifted from the 28 Days Later soundtrack, and in no way is that a bad thing. Strutting confidently throughout the song, Moores band exhibit what they have longed tried to avoid; sounding very similar to another band. Kasabian, only with extremely sinister overtones. Pulse is the next song a guilty Tom Meighan would have written if he had just been acquitted of first-degree murder, written up instantly on the court steps and sang proudly as he walked along basking in his unjust freedom.
Overall, there are promising signs from the tracks released so far from The Mirror Trap. Their autonomous attitude towards making music may have hindered them in their progress so far, but I cant help but get the feeling that their music should all the better for it. Ironically, they are at their strongest when they embrace and implement the influences of other bands, because it allows them the freedom to concentrate on delivering their individuality and sinister character. There has been speculation that this may be the first and last album for the group, but with promising tracks like White Rabbits and Pulse, it would seem foolish for them to abandon their efforts before they could further develop on what talent is present within the songs of The Last Great Melodrama. Moore concedes that his band are “four pop-stars stuck in the real world, slowly having the life drained” from them. However, the proficiency of Pulse proves theyve retained more than enough vitality to see it through until a second album. “But alas,” Moore continues, “while blood passes through our bodies we will try,”. And try they should.
You can listen to three of the tracks off the album here: http://themirrortrap.bandcamp.com/album/album-teaser
The Last Great Melodrama is released on the 13th of June
The Mirror Traps first single from it, White Rabbits, will be available on the 30th of May.