When ‘Can We Be Strangers‘ heads this album off, it’s easy to be drawn in by the assumption that Jeremy Tuplin has been listening to an awful lot of Tindersticks, or perhaps even more likely, The National. From there on though, it’s pretty evident that, if anyone is his true spirit guide, it’s Neil Hannon.
There are other references to be made, of course, as Tuplin’s voice is reminiscent of The Triffids‘ late frontman David McCombs on ‘Bad Lover‘ and on the zippier tracks, the musical backing reminds me a little of eighties indie underdogs The Man From Del Monte.
‘The Machine‘ is one of the highlights here, beginning with a pounding rhythm that calls to mind a sped up intro of Alannah Myles‘s 1990 smash ‘Black Velvet‘, Tuplin’s semi-romantic prose lifting the track several notches higher, with lyrics like “Here I am, it’s midnight, I’ve had a few to drink / I’m wandering through the streets alone, batteries on the blink / Barcelona, November, two thousand seventeen / I thought it’d be the future by now, but it’s gone and been.”
Like the aforementioned Divine Comedy man, intelligent verbosity plays a huge part in Jeremy Tuplin’s music, and in truth, if you’ve never paid that much attention to the words, you may well find this harder to enjoy, for there are precious few real hooks ensconced within. Winsome? Yes. Easy on the ear? Hell yeah. But catchy? Uuuuuum…..
Thankfully it matters not one jot, as there is much to admire in Tuplin’s fascinating take on ‘folk rock’, although it almost seems like describing him in such terms is doing him a great disservice. Especially when you get to the dreamy, swirling guitars of the gorgeous ‘Humans‘, transporting you right back to a more innocent era, circa 1991 to be precise, and proving that this guy has more herbs in his spice rack than merely parsley.
We’re left with the more minimalistic acoustics of ‘The Beast‘, which contains quite feasibly my favourite lyric of the year so far: “So naturally I’ve been doing this all the time / in between any other hippy crap I find online.”
Sometimes beautiful, often funny, Pink Mirror is definitely worth your time.
Pink Mirror is out now on Trapped Animal Records.