The opening track on Mirage Sower, the second full-length album from York, Pennsylvania’s Reservoir hits the guts like a grudge-backed rack of knuckles. “Lightening Bug” delivers sour tones laid underneath bittersweet vocals, offering an unforgettable line about waving the grayest flag. My immediate reaction is a visceral one, carried off on a smoky twister of ancestral pain and mid-west darkness. I can see something through the fog: river banks swollen, a series of house fires crackling on the horizon and a whole lot of poor folks waiting for help that just ain’t coming.
Sorry, Jed. You’re out of luck.
The first half of Mirage Sower continues on the same melancholic dirt road even as the opening track’s imagery evaporates back into the mist. On “Moons” the band makes great use of icy piano drops, an eerie twinge to aggravate my already shuddering spinal column; later on, on “Curtains” they build to a shattering crescendo of guitars that, four tracks in, leaves me spent. In so many ways, I am able to welcome back a host of bleak, salty memories, a guided tour of my own disappointment offered by the storytelling vocal duo of Josh Allamon and Justin Lutz. It’s a masterful, emotional journey.
Something happens after “Curtains” blows out though. The rest of Mirage Sower plays on mellower emotions, and in some ways turns into an ordinary listen, gray-toned even and it isn’t until the last track, “Smoke Signals” that my attention is wrested back to their tableau of woe. There isn’t a bad song in the mix, but the second half really lacks seizure, especially compared to the first half, which evokes a leviathan of sorrow.
Overall, Mirage Sower is quite a force of dark post rock. There are outstanding tracks, alive with a diversity of emotion and expression, but the potholes are sadly there. Perhaps they’re avoidable to another ear, but for me, they were far too deep to ignore.