Album review: Sons & Daughters, ‘Mirror Mirror’ (Domino)

August 19, 2011

Like a lot of the acts on the beloved English indie Domino Records—Clinic and the Arctic Monkeys most notable among them—what strikes you as a fresh and invigorating twist on familiar sounds on a debut album too soon settles into yet another predictable formula: O.K., that’s fine. But what else ya got?

The first three releases from Glasgow’s Sons & Daughters seemed to be following this path. Yeah, their rocked-up Scottish take on Johnny Cash’s Gothic country, enhanced by the very John Doe/Exene Cervenka dueling harmonies of Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson, was plenty alluring on “Love the Cup” (2003) and, to a lesser degree, “The Repulsion Box” (2005).

But by 2008 and album number three, the Bernard Butler-produced “This Gift,” the group was relying on studio polish to mask the fact that it didn’t have anything new to say.

For “Mirror Mirror,” however, the band strips things back down to the basics, amplifying the Velvet Underground drone that has always been threatening in the background, and putting the focus on that menace, as well as David Gow’s propulsive drumming.

While the sound has alienated some longtime fans who just wanted more of the same, I think this is the record where Sons & Daughters proves it’s got countless more dark back roads to explore, and I’m happy to follow them there.

On the four-star scale: 3.5 STARS