The Los Angeles based Drab Majesty’s new album Modern Mirror packs a confident, at times irresistibly catchy but overall somber examination of our search for love and other basic emotional elements of our humanity in an increasingly technology-driven and sometimes dramatically less and less “human” world. As we continue our advancement towards a possibly inevitable end, our natures have not vanished, instead remaining embedded right within us as we peer out over the technological and physical voids around us. Modern Mirror captures a feel of this moment, getting quite direct at times lyrically with admonishments like, “Listen to the call of the void; there’s a message in it for you.”
The actual sounds of Drab Majesty’s music fit this attempt to confront modernization’s impact on our humanity quite perfectly. There’s a nostalgic feel threaded through their sound, calling bands like The Cure to mind with their emotionally urgent but ethereal and even somewhat haunting pop, but Drab Majesty focus these sensibilities into their own unique imprint on Modern Mirror. Their songs truly impart a sense of resigned confidence, even alongside all the weight of their emotional undertow and that “call of the void.” They’re straightforwardly melodic and even quite danceable at times, elements that serve like a call to action for listeners to really pay attention to what the band are doing. The album provides a chance for observers to examine the suspension their love and related sentiments have been plunged into as the world has marched indefinitely onward, often with a resounding emotional chill.
The clear confidence Drab Majesty maintain in tackling these themes and our place in them leads to album features like Modern Mirror’s almost eight minute long closing track, “Out Of Sequence.” Not really just a casual bop at all, the song contains the repeatedly pushed question of whether “anybody understands this time” at all — and a conclusion looming over this song and the rest of the album is that no one does.
Even within that void though, there’s a chance exemplified by Drab Majesty’s music to claim some of that space for ourselves, without even necessarily losing the sense of the drowning ether hanging just behind our shoulders. Modern Mirror’s songs contain some real-world feeling love stories, like that of the single “Ellipsis” that illustrates two “modern minds” struggling to connect across a technological void and the differently framed later track “Oxytocin,” in which the speaker shares that they’re in love “again.” Even trapped in the void, there’s love to reach for, and Drab Majesty illustrate this push on Modern Mirror.