“She loves me” are the first words heard on Mirrors, DJ Seinfeld’s first album in four years. It’s a simple yet personal statement, in keeping with the Swedish producer’s love for vocal samples that go straight to the point. But it’s also a bit shocking to hear something so sweet on one of his records. Armand Jakobsson started the project as a way to deal with a breakup; his first singles and debut album were dark and melancholy house, filled with euphoria but also imbued with an inevitable sense of longing and sadness. This sample is a clue that something important has changed.
Gone are the awkward snare beats and muffled hi-hats that were everywhere in its early days, and the saturated tape effect that covered everything else. Instead, thick and sometimes almost groovy basslines are everywhere, and the booming Day-Glo synths have taken center stage. Jakobsson has always had a strained relationship with the “lo-fi” label that has stuck with his productions from the start, and here he seems to revel in making music that is nothing like his old stuff. “Walking With Your Smile” has a garage mix that suggests a sunnier funeral, until a gloriously cheesy processed piano reminds you who actually does that. Closer “Song for the Lonely” makes Jakobsson look like he’s trying to prove he can make a good club banger, with his relentless energy, constantly changing melody and bass drum. All over Mirrors the output has become crisp, smooth and polished until it shines. Only “These Things Will Come To Be” sounds like something from the old playbook. The song’s syncopated chords build for two minutes, then fade behind a wistful voice message from a woman longing for days gone by. But even that moment takes an unexpected turn: the message ends on a note of acceptance and hope, and the music reconstructs itself to convey a sense of catharsis.
Jakobsson has always been adamant that, despite the wacky name, DJ Seinfeld was never intended as a joke or a one-trick pony. Indeed, he’s been hinting at a change in his music for a while, most notably on the four EPs he’s released on his own Young Ethics label over the past two years: All Stretched and Pulled His Tone, testing variations of everything from Italo-house in large scale trance. Realizing the feeling of happiness he has been striving to capture in his music for years, Mirrors is the culmination of these experiences, a way for DJ Seinfeld to show exactly how far he has come.
Hardcore fans might be disappointed that Jakobsson seems to have abandoned almost all of the outer traps that made his music so distinctive in the first place, trading in the intimacy and mystery of his early works for something more refined and pleasurable for him. public. With Mirrors, Jakobsson is making his ambition clear: he’s trying to get as big as Jamie xx did on In colour. It’s easy to imagine many of these songs making the soundtrack of huge outdoor festivals, perfectly in sync with the setting sun. Yet even in his early days, what made Seinfeld’s music special were the melodies hidden beneath the surface. Mirrors bring them to the light, in all their glory. What Jakobsson always tried to accomplish with DJ Seinfeld was to try to tap into a great universal emotion, a feeling of longing in all of us. This time he finds him in joy instead of sorrow.
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