~reviewed by Stuart Moses
Sometimes the sound of children singing can warm the heart. Other times it can freeze the soul. The female singer as frightening/frightened child has many antecedents in music. Original shoegazers The Cranes trademarked this sound. Singer Alison Shaw never expressed specific accounts of suffering – and for all I know had a perfect childhood – but there was always an unspecific air of horror.
There’s a trace of Alison Shaw in Mira’s singer Regina Sosinski. Admittedly Regina sings using real words rather than a made-up language, but the lyrics are not easy to make out, so the cause of distress is left for the listener to imagine. Something sounds like it is terribly wrong. But then art is often created from trauma I guess.
“Pieces” is a six-minute slice of dark indie. The guitars float and swirl, but the drums and bass keep it tethered in this world. It creates a bleak, yet angry, atmosphere then departs. There’s an impressive use of dynamics, especially around the four-minute mark when everything goes quiet before the song builds to a climax. You get the idea that this is a band that have honed their sound by playing together constantly.
The mood lightens for second song “Window Seat”. The words are a little clearer, but still opaque. Each instrument plays its part, yet never dominates, always making sure that the song is served. The military drumming around two and a half minutes in works particularly well. Too often bands with a shoegazing influence could be described as wishy-washy, fey or wet. The firm foundations offered here mean that Mira are made of sterner stuff, even if they are stronger on creating atmospheres than tunes you’ll be humming afterwards.
The feelings of anger and regret previously displayed are replaced by a gentler melancholy in “No Other Way”. Here Mira sound more like a traditional Projekt band. After the fury of the first two songs I’m quite relieved to swoon in a bit of The Shroud-like wistfulness. I prefer this side of the band, though equally too much of this would soon become sickly. There’s a good chance that Regina’s repetition of the title will stay in my head long after the song has finished. The guitars give the feeling of “Homesick” or “Untitled” by The Cure. If I ever attend a jazz club in the early hours of the morning I want Mira to be the house band.
I’ve not heard anything by Tallahassee metal band Cream Abdul Babar, so I can’t tell you how faithful Mira’s version of “Todd Space Is My Day Job” is. It’s an intriguing experiment, that sounds like it was fun to do. The results are like a quieter version of The Gathering. At the climax Mira get as metal as they ever will. It’s a chance for the guitarist to employ some FX that the rest of the band won’t usually let him use.
It’s disappointing to learn that it is “Pieces” and “Window Seat” that feature on Mira’s new album There I Go Again Dreamer. While it is easy to admire the musicianship and ability to create a bleak mood on these songs, I can’t help but be more entranced by the jazz and metal influences displayed on “No Other Way” and “Todd Space Is My Day Job.” Let’s hope the album represents all aspects of the band.