Austin-based rockers vanish into the desert, return with an album.
Modern Outsider, 2013
7.0 / 10
After their record label folded, and their debut album’s budget vanished along with it, Mirror Travel had to start all over. So they regrouped, wandered out into the desert1, and recorded an album. Mirror Travel, formerly known as Follow The Bird, arrives to us straight out of Austin, Texas, and their desert sojourn may have been just what the band needed. Their first album, Mexico, is fuzzy in a way that suggests hallucinations, and the band’s looser compositions reflect the deserts between Texas and Mexico, making the album’s title fitting. Striking somewhere between garage rock and shoegaze pop, Mirror Travel have created an album that feels old and new, as if it could have come out in 1991 or just last week.
The garage rock at play here isn’t necessarily something that’s novel or even new, but the energy and confidence that Mirror Travel can bring to the table is. For a trio, their sound is decidedly full, and they switch it up between some fast, quick burners and midtempo, melody-driven numbers. The intro track, for example, is a mitempo instrumental, setting the tone with a layered, reverby guitar. It sets Mirror Travel up to blow listeners away when the overdrive distortion kicks in on the following track, like an old van ripping down a desert road with dust billowing behind it.
So what exactly makes Mexico sound like the desert? Lauren Green’s vocals have just the right amount of reverb and resonance to make sure sound distant – not emotionally distant, but physically distant. She’s not buried in the mix, but no matter how loud you turn up your speakers, she sounds just out of reach. The rhythm section provided courtesy of Paul Brinkley’s bass and Tiffanie Lanmon’s drums are tight, precise, and slightly slow. They move a little slower than Green’s guitar, creating a dragging effect. Some moments on Mexico feel physically heavy, and when Mirror Travel start cooking with gas, they feel momentous and unstoppable.
The energy doesn’t last forever though, and after the 1-2-3 combo of “I Want You To Know”, “Mexico,” and “Parties”, the band bumps the brakes. Unfortunately, Mirror Travel isn’t able to recapture this energy and focus on these latter tracks2, opting for slightly more spacious, atmospheric work. Mexico might be lopsided, but when Mirror Travel’s formula works, it works.
“I Want You To Know”
1. No, not a cake. That’s dessert. With an extra “s”. Will the next album be recorded inside a giant milano? The band haven’t denied rumors.
2.. If you’re thinking, wait, wait, wait, they kind of do on “Pinholes,” yes, you’re right. They did kind of do that on “Pinholes”. I’m not counting halfsies.