Following on from his debut record ‘I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut’, where Tuplin brought his booming ‘space folk’ to the table, the songwriter returns with his second record ‘Pink Mirror’. Perhaps with a wink and a nod to Charlie Brooker’s twisted alternative dimensions of Black Mirror, Pink Mirrors aims satirical swipes at various modern tropes, from love to the internet. Tulpin describes the pink mirror as the rose-tinted spectacles we often view our world and our place within it – suggesting it’s been made ever more prevalent with the rise of social media and the lives we represent online. Lyrically, the album is heavy on the social commentary side, but with cutting, witty lines on the internet sprinkled throughout, it manages to remains in the light, despite some of the darker deprecation intended.
Released on independent label Trapped Animal Records following the success of one-off single ‘Long Hot Summer’ last year, the album feels like a supercharged upgrade on Tuplin’s debut, with more up-beat numbers, bigger soundscapes and plenty more guitars. Whether it’s the fuzzy crescendo of ‘Pandora’s Box’ to the heartbreaking strings at the end of ‘Gaia’, it’s an album that has more confident flourishes dotted throughout.
The record opens with ‘Can We Be Strangers’, which slowly builds from simple strumming to a swirling, chiming storm of noise. If his debut was infused with intergalactic wordplay and expansive spaces, then this is the sound of the dizzying moments when you crash back down to earth. Tuplin has beefed up his folk sound for these songs and next up is the twisted, summer indie of Bad Lover, combining fuzzy guitar chirrups with Tuplin’s signature brooding baritone.
‘Just Cos Ur Handsome’ continues the bright sunshine feel sound and allows Jeremy’s clever wordplay to shine through. Taking a swing at the social media presences we create for ourselves, the song feels like a laid-back poetry recital on a seaside promenade, with Jeremy deadpanning the line “…just because your handsome, doesn’t mean your happy”. Later on in the record, ‘The Machine’ offers another opportunity to flex his writing muscles with quickfire one-liners across a range of meandering topics. Sounding like it was written whilst randomly putting a finger on different pages of an encyclopedia, it’s a song about regret that touches on Elvis impersonations, race and the motives of pigeons, tied together with panache.
The draw of the space still infiltrates his work and on ‘Pandora’s Box’ he sings, “I was hoping to be floating out in space again” in a song that seems to be battling the desire to have a carefree, mellow existence against the tiny needles of absurdity and anxiety that punctuate our day-to-day lives. The melancholic title track ‘Pink Mirror’ also hints of a darkness lurking underneath our social exteriors while ‘Frankenstein’ presents the internet’s worst themes as history’s most infamous monster. It’s a running theme that could have become tiresome but in Tuplin’s hands it acts as a platform to tie together a number of lyrical ideas and thoughts on 21st Century living.
While ‘Break Up’ reinforces the idea that we’re all becoming a little less human thanks to the devices we now put so much of our life into, penultimate track ‘Humans’ is a love song to our species, despite his “seemingly best intentions not to”. It culminates in a two recital of famous people from throughout time and adds a silver lining to the downbeat themes of the record.
‘Pink Mirror’ is an ambitious album that expands the sound of Jeremy Tuplin’s first record and manages to offer an interesting take on the well-documented themes of social media and its potential negative effects. It’s his ruminations on himself though that often pack the biggest punch and paired-back final track ‘The Beast’ openly discusses dealing with rage and negative feelings, a beautiful cleanser before we return to the real world.