Release Date: Jan 31, 2012
Record label: Universal Republic
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic
Gotye is a Belgian-born Australian with a Portuguese-looking stage name that he pronounces like a Frenchman ("Gauthier"). That's just the beginning of the cosmopolitanism on his bracing U.S. debut. Gotye crams in a little bit of everything: Turkish drums, West African thumb pianos, a bass line constructed from samples of an instrument called the Winton Musical Fence.
At his best, Gotye (stage name of Australian musician Walter De Backer) hearkens back to a time when the crop of middlebrow male pop stars wasn't so lousy with simpering troubadours or assembly-line idols. Instead, the ranks were populated by guys like Peter Gabriel, George Michael, and Hall & Oates, who sang forcefully and made bold pop hits with intelligent, grown-up themes. Artists who also had broad sonic appetites and arty predilections, guaranteeing their work would sometimes frustrate, but would remain intriguing.
Stepping out from behind the piano/drums of Melbourne indie pop three-piece the Basics for the third time, Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist Wally De Backer, aka Gotye's first solo record in five years, Making Mirrors, reveals a love of the '80s pop scene, which extends far beyond the usual influences of the current nu-synth brigade. The hugely experimental follow-up to 2006's Like Drawing Blood doesn't discriminate against other decades, as evident on the impossibly uplifting '60s retro soul of "I Feel Better," the '70s West Coast harmonies of the ethereal lullaby-like closer "Bronte," the '90s Beck-esque scuzzy garage rock of "Easy Way Out," and the 2000s hushed, claustrophobic dubstep of "Don't Worry, We'll Be Watching You. " But seemingly unaffected by the constant comparisons with the likes of Sting and Peter Gabriel, it's the era of early new wave, dub, and worldbeat which defines its 12 tracks.
While Making Mirrors marked Gotye’s stateside debut this January, it’s worth noting that the Belgium-born, Australia-bred Wally de Becker has been doing this music thing for quite a while now. He originally exploded in his home country thanks to a song he released in 2007 called “Heart’s a Mess”, a song so popular in Australia that fans of their national pop radio station Triple J actually voted it one of the 100 “hottest” songs of all-time just two years later. For whatever reason that song had next to no discernible impact on an international level despite the track’s enjoyable Gorillaz-type vibe and odd, highly viewable Nightmare Before Christmas-like video.
Thirty-one-year-old Wouter De Backer has been a big pop star in his native Australia since 2003, but after the video for his taut, slinky break-up song "Somebody That I Used to Know" racked up 62m views, the rest of the world started paying attention too. Sadly, this album has as many misses as hits. De Backer's supple, nice-guy voice – given full, feel-good rein on tracks such as the hands-in-the-air retro soul of "I Feel Better" – often seems at odds with his more recombinant impulses: there's restless sampling throughout and, as the dubby misadventure of "State of the Art" confirms, it's not always successful.
Belgium-born, Melbourne-bred Gotye has been knocking around the Australian music scene for years, releasing albums that draw on his attraction to found sounds and vintage instruments. His third LP is the one that's finally got the world's attention because it contains Somebody That I Used to Know, a mesmerising heartbreak song that has had 62m YouTube hits. Nothing else here is quite like it.
[a]Gotye[/a]’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ sat at Number One for eight weeks in his native Australia and scraped the UK Top 20, but if you’re expecting an album of heartfelt songs of lost love, think again. On ‘Making Mirrors’, experimentalism is king, as Gotye further explores the sampling present on his previous two albums, reaching a head in ‘State Of The Art’– a vocoder-led reflection on the progress of technology. Elsewhere, ‘Bronte’ sees Gotye in Sufjan territory and ‘I Feel Better’ takes a nudge from Motown.
Moniker of Wally De Backer, Gotye hasn’t gained household status in the UK as of yet but it’s clear that he’s had an extremely successful career so far in his homeland of Australia, where ‘Making Mirrors’ has already been released. It’s become more common for artists to stage a waiting period before bringing their music to Britain with American-based bands Peaking Lights and Givers recently amongst many to test the waters before launching themselves over here. Wally De Backer has been making music under the alias of Gotye since 2003 but it’s only on his third studio album that mass attention has been surrounding him and it’s not hard to see why.
GOTYE “Making Mirrors” (Samples ’n’ Seconds/ Universal Republic) First things first: Yes, Gotye sounds a whole lot like Sting when he sings the chorus of “Somebody That I Used to Know.” That tinge of pop familiarity may have helped make the song an international hit when Gotye’s third album, “Making Mirrors,” was released last year in Australia, where he lives. Now “Making Mirrors” arrives in the United States along with Gotye himself, who is performing Monday at the Bowery Ballroom. The album merges catchy gizmo-loving pop constructions with a stalwartly depressive mindset.
If all you've heard from this Belgian-Australian is "Somebody That I Used to Know," you might be tempted to write him off as that skinny creep who got dumped. Making Mirrors, Gotye's international breakthrough, comes as his third full-length and showcases a risk-taking, self-possessed artist, with mixed results. The sultry "Smoke and Mirrors" is a jazzy, slinky respite from the angst of "Somebody," but then the wrongheaded blue-eyed soul of "I Feel Better" kicks in and the goodwill meter drops again.