Distortion Mirrors: Zeros And Kings - Distortion Mirrors is perhaps the most appropriately named band that I’ve ever come across. Hyperbole on that level is almost certainly the call of the douchebag, but allow me to plead my case. First, the word distortion can refer to the guitars in nearly every song on this album. Furthermore, the word mirror could refer to the fact that they reflect their influences and surroundings. Finally, when you put the two words together it refers to an item that reflects what it sees in an offbeat slightly skewed manner, which is exactly how I feel Distortion Mirrors have taken the pop rock sensibilities that they’ve encountered and repackaged and repurposed them to create a sound feels new and old at the same time.
The album begins with the tongue-in-cheek proclamation, “This song is brought to you by the Federation of Cool”. They follow that proclamation with ‘Death By Love’, a best of collection of pop rock standards: wall of sound guitars, distorted guitars and vocals, and hand claps. The proclamation is saying two things at once: this song is cool and it is cool because all of the aspects of the song have been pre-approved as cool by a generation of music fans. The song itself is a simple and fun pop song, but the statement goes a little deeper.
An interesting aspect of the band and record is that while the singer, Luke Worle, writes the lion share of the music his lyrics are almost inconsequential because you can’t understand them. The distorted engineering on the album turns his voice into another instrument used to accent the fantastic guitar play of the other member of the group, Josiah Brooks. The choice is a little perplexing, but the sound is undeniably enjoyable.
The album, while on the shorter side (only eight tracks), is anything but one note. There are flashes of complexity and diversity all over the album. In ‘Prom Queen’ for the first time on the album the guitars take a back seat and sit out the song at first. The song is led by the bass and percussion which really allows the guitars to shine when they make their first appearance during the chorus. It’s still a wall of sound influenced song, but on this one the wall is only four strings deep as opposed to the typical six.
‘For Helen’ is the first track that features no lyrics at all. It is simply a beautiful piano ballad highlighted by a string section that acts as a stirring testament to whomever Helen is or was. The recording process of the song is interesting. They piano sounds as if it’s coming from a vitrola while the strings sound clear as day, and the result is both stirring and haunting.
Finally, the finale to Zeros and Kings is its most epic track and shows everything of which the band is capable. The drums have an echo that suggest arena rock, the piano drives the song, and as is the case in most of rest of the album, Worle’s voice is only present to supplement the amazing instrumentation that is taking place. I can’t wait to see their next reflection… 8.8/10