It’s not unusual for artists to conceptualise their albums as soundtracks to imaginary films or landscapes. But few go as far as directing a gloriously schlocky four-minute trailer for this fictitious film. That’s just the kind of band Psychic Mirrors are – an expansively creative group whose sense of fun is matched only by their musical prowess.
They’re a six-piece band from Miami, helmed by moustachioed genius Mickey De Grand IV. The sound is a breed of omnivorous funk, grounded in tough 80’s synth workouts but limitless in scope, taking in bouncing reggae melodies, noir soundtracks and starry-eyed boogie without missing a beat. The loose concept is ‘The Nature of Evil’, ostensibly a gangster thriller but it all sounds more like a love letter to Miami’s blend of cultural histories. After a few hotly-sought 12”s on their own Cosmic Chronic label (distributed by People’s Potential Unlimited) this is only the group’s first album but it’s bogglingly accomplished, a testament to the joyous power of music.
The album’s made up of short, profoundly satisfying jams, bursting with huge basslines, dusty drumwork and lashings of nostalgic effects. The synth riffs are fat and colourful, basslines supple and earthy. The blend of male and female vocals keeps things fresh, and their ability to conjure hummable hooks is impressive – nearly any of these twelve tracks could be stuck in your head for days.
The highlights come thick and fast and the breezy groove of Island Girl is a welcome introduction. The catchiness is all in its simplicity, ruled over a by a huge one-note bass dive and an acrobatic vocal line that can veer from edgy to relaxed in a matter of moments. The basic elements keep the listener grounded, but there’s a wealth of detail that shows the skills of the whole band, from a generous spread of funk squiggles to the UFO effects that counterpoint the chorus. The album hits a particular high-point in its third quarter, sliding from the optimistic piano riff of Head of the Class to the humid groove of Draw Me Your Favorite Funk via the reggae notes of album highlight Rated X.
The band treat their filmic concept with a sly wink but there’s a cinematic sense of drama throughout. The church bells that punctuate the low-slung funk of The Bells of Saint Christopher have a B-movie tinge, while Rated X slides into satanic reverse in its second half, bookended by the kind of dreamy synth melodies that typically end televised public service announcements.
There’s definitely a throwback flavour to The Nature of Evil, but the broad blend of influences marks it as music that could only be made today. In a music scene dominated by quick fixes and straight-faced ‘deep’ albums, it’s a painful rarity to find something that’s lovable on first listen and still brimming with details to admire after a month of heavy rotation. Whatever ‘it’ is, Psychic Mirrors have it in spades. The only thing that could add to this album’s experience is if they actually made that film.
For more like this, check out our Future Funk playlist.