Electro-industrial project Imperative Reaction returned on Friday with their long-awaited seventh studio album. It’s the first new music from the band in more than a decade, and it’s also the first album I’m obsessed with in 2021.
Imperative Reaction aren’t necessarily reinventing themselves or pioneering a new sound on Mirror. In fact, much of the album feels like an amalgamation of sounds they’ve dealt with throughout their 20-year history, and there are obvious cues from Depeche Mode during their prime and early NIN.
Yet the production on Mirror is top-notch, full of surprising and exciting sounds, and the songwriting is superb. There’s a central theme about dependence and personal identity running across the album’s 11 songs. I’ve listened to it a handful of times, and these are the tracks that have quickly become my favorites:
Imperative Reaction – “Glass”
“Glass” is the most synthpop-sounding song on Mirror and perhaps in all of Imperative Reaction’s discography, so of course it’s my favorite. I can feel Alan Wilder’s influence in this song, particularly in the dynamic bridge and the synthline that vibrates in and out of the chorus.
Imperative Reaction – “Intertwined”
“Intertwined” is another track from Mirror that bears a strong influence from classic synthpop. That playful synth motif is a real bop, and the melodic lyrics about “two souls intertwined” do a nice job of conveying the album’s underlying theme.
Imperative Reaction – “Like Swine”
Imperative Reaction ratchets up the aggression on “Like Swine,” one of several tracks on Mirror that features harsh vocals from Ted Phelps. It stands out for the pigs-in-filth metaphor and the mindblowing synth staccato that harpoons the bass layer.