Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review: The Irrepressibles – Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror

There are few men like Jamie McDermott. A man of his calibre is seldom found in the 21st century. His affection for cheeky baroque arrangements, doctor outlandish but hypnotising woodland performances and a theatrical charm that belies his context in our often over-starched popstar era marks McDermott as one of a very different breed indeed. As the master of ceremonies to the 10-strong orchestral collective The Irrepressibles, information pills McDermott offers pure carnal delight in a debut that is never once short of imagination, gusto or surprise. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the cabaret.

‘Mirror Mirror’ is a soaring, inquisitive and arresting debut that conjures the ethereal atmosphere of theatre in a swell of tempting arrangements and remarkable rhythmic pace. A chorus of strings rises from each song, perhaps to best effect in opener “My Friend Jo”. As the curtain rises, urgent sharp violins introduce the listener to the ‘crazy bitch’ Jo, the finest of introductions to the irreverent humour and talent of The Irrepressibles. As we slip and slide through the first act of ‘Mirror Mirror’, the fits and starts of strings and guitars are bolstered by McDermott’s unnervingly impressive vocal range. Keen to show he does not merely masquerade in the comic, “In Your Eyes” is typical of the vulnerability and touching emotion which McDermott’s voice projects. For all the showmanship there is no hesitation to allow the matters of the heart to take precedence and in moments of lucidity we are granted a glance through the keyhole guarding such secrets.

But everything is not quite what it seems in the wonderfully animate world of ‘Mirror Mirror’; “Knife Song” purrs with the allure of a lover as flutes flirtatiously tiptoe through the verses but the revelation that, “Jamie, it’s such a shame you disappoint me,” marks a song of personal confusion and searing but very human honesty. More than a voice on a record, more than a character paraded on stage, McDermott is a man who has poured not only his creative energies into The Irrepressibles but his heart and soul. We become intermingled in the melt of his thoughts in ‘Nuclear Skies’ as layers of light keys, wailing strings, intensifying reverberations and angelic calls become an otherworldly whirlwind.


Despite a willingness to expose the raw emotion of the heart, The Irrepressibles show a devilish streak. Never shy to taunt, tease and tempt, McDermott takes on Elvis himself to declare, “take my hand, take my whole life too, because I can’t help what I do to you,” in “Splish! Splash! Sploo!”. Crashing cymbals and scaling plucked violins punctuate a mocking warble to the publicly jilted. A complicated man indeed. Undoubtedly the finest moment of ‘Mirror Mirror’ arrives at the tail end in the form of “In This Shirt”, its beauty compounded by glitchy electronic stutters that chatter like birdsong, organs and the rolling expectancy of the cello. Feeling like fresh sun on your face, the finale is truly worth waiting for as it unravels itself in pure mastery.

McDermott’s exuberant performances dance on the border of disturbing, but an ability to melt between the light and the dark with such mesmerising grace has led to comparisons to Anthony Hegarty, though the heights McDermott’s voice can reach sometimes suggest a male Joanna Newsom, minus the folk. The time for the rise of the Irrepressibles is surely upon us. The somewhat poperatic tendencies undoubtedly catch your attention but the flamboyancy can sometimes seem more like a child starved of affection. The positive side to this is The Irrepressibles’s contagious spirit and exuberance for sticking a tongue out or a lithe finger up to convention. McDermott and his cohorts relish the playful charm of Anvil, a galloping soundtrack to a horseback race across the backdrop of twisted romances. The finesse of the orchestral arrangements and assault on the boundaries of musical genres mark ‘Mirror Mirror’ as an album that deserves to be given your time; not only is it a lot cheaper than a ticket to the theatre, but it offers you so much in return.

Categories ,album review, ,irrepressibles, ,music, ,Nina Joyce, ,the irrepressibles

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