A rollicking beat and unassuming vocal harmonies are waiting on the other side of the play button in “Anything You Want,” the first song in the tracklist of Vinyl Floor’s new record Funhouse Mirror, and quite frankly, the fun is only getting started here. As fetching as this introduction is, it’s just a small sampling of the clandestine charisma of Funhouse Mirror as it’s presented in the reticent groove of “Clock With No Hands” or the stirring simplicity of “Between Lines Undone,” all of which come together to form a narrative spanning each of these songs as opposed to being confined within the space of a single composition. There is no filler in this LP, but instead a collection of soulful confessions and passing thoughts that feel enamoring no matter how you’re breaking them down.
“Dear Apollon” has an almost surreal quality to its mild tempo, but it never devolves into the postmodern pop nonsense that has become all too common across the indie spectrum over the past few years. There’s no neo-psychedelic daydreaming in Funhouse Mirror, but this isn’t to say that the record lacks any cerebral sensibilities; if anything, they’re offered to us in such a way that it’s hard to determine whether they’re self-doubt or outright contemplation, such as the case is with the lyrics in “Ever, the Optimist” and “Pretty Predictable,” both of which I would say are single-worthy songs in their own right. This might not have been produced with the radio in mind, but Vinyl Floor’s new album is a very accessible listen just the same.
Where “Pretty Predictable” stops well short of being invasive with its sonic presence, the same cannot be said about the title track in Funhouse Mirror, which is perhaps the riskiest composition to have included in the LP, mostly because its cosmetics don’t gel with any of the song structures featured in the album’s first act. That said, its angularities add a bit of pop/rock inelegance to the mix I wouldn’t get rid of for anything, and being that it leads us into the startlingly dark territory of “Death of a Poet” as well as it does, I don’t know that it’s as much of a black sheep in this tracklist as an initial glance at the material might lead you to believe.
“Stare, Scare” is one of the best and heaviest songs Thomas Charlie Pedersen has ever penned, but if there’s anything we can take away from the dread it’s mammoth riffing produces, it’s that Vinyl Floor should be classified as an indie rock band in the loosest – and I do mean the very loosest – sense of the term. There’s so much that this group is able to do that their alternative songwriting style is almost retro in style, being that it’s been at least two generations since most bands of their kind were able to have the freedom to compose both “Stare, Scare” and “Days” for the same LP. It’s SST-like, but without the politics that embroiled so many of that iconic label’s most influential acts.
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