Federal Prisoner
rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. In This Hell You'll Find Yourself
02. Reality Spiral
03. No More Lives To Go
04. Never Wanted That
05. Lowered
06. We
07. I Eclipse
08. Rainbows Underground
09. All Waves To Nothing

Audibly happy to be confounding people that thought they had him pegged, Greg Puciato's second solo album adheres to the same principles of blurred-genre anarchy that informed the first, 2020's "Child Soldier: Creator of God". Sufficiently removed from anything he had done previously, that album brimmed with smart ideas and a sense of liberation delivered via a blank slate and endless possibilities. Arriving less than two years later, "Mirrorcell" feels like a very natural follow-up, as Puciato's scattershot combination of gnarly alternative rock, squelching synth-pop, mutant noise and often genuinely beautiful melodies blossoms in all directions.

In reality, the only real connection between this and its creator's past life in THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN is that "Mirrorcell" is a restless and provocative piece of work. After an overture of pulsing noise, "Reality Spiral" provides a flurry of riff-wrapped uppercuts, with a stirring vocal hook and a gripping sense of forward motion. "Lowered" is a simply sublime post-punk hymn, overwrought in just the right kind of way and possessed of a timeless, killer chorus, with guest singer Reba Meyers blending harmoniously with the star attraction.

Similarly bewitching is "We", which sounds like some magical, lo-fi DEPECHE MODE curio, but with Krautrock pacing and a simmering, sinister edge. Most impressive of all, "All Waves to Nothing" is a lurching, dubbed-out, drone rock ambush, with Puciato barking threats through a cosmic loudhailer amid a downward spiral of dirty riffs. When another sparkling melody bursts from the hostile melee, it feels miraculous.

Not everything on "Mirrorcell" feels as adventurous as those startling high points. "No More Lives to Go" is a little grey and uneventful, particularly given the songs that surround it, and "Rainbows Underground" adds little to what we already knew about the American's grunge fixation. Likewise, "Never Wanted That" is a decent rock song, but one that fades from memory as soon as something as warped and hypnotic as "I Eclipse" kicks into gear. Those inconsistencies aside, "Mirrorcell" is as brave and intriguing as discerning listeners have come to expect over the years. Not quite earth-shattering, then, but a very worthwhile addition to an increasingly broad and brilliant canon.

Author: Dom Lawson
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