Madison indie-rock trio Mirrors for Windows has been around for about a year, waiting for the perfect moment to pierce the public consciousness. It looks like the band is ready, armed with a sharp new track named "Reconnaissance" and a debut EP named Avoidance Conditioning.
Scratching lyrics into the air in precise, rhythmic patterns, Scott Stetson, Mirrors for Windows' vocalist and guitarist, resembles the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle: His cunning poetry cuts straight to the heart, especially when carried by a good melody.
However, Stetson wasn't thinking of Darnielle when he was composing the song. His go-to guy is Dan Bejar of Destroyer and the New Pornographers. "I'm a big fan of his, and I think this song is influenced by his songwriting style," Stetson says.
The less-than-pleasant details of his everyday life -- the life he lived before moving to Madison from Chicago a little while back -- were also a driving force during the songwriting process.
"I wrote the first draft of 'Reconnaissance' three years ago. I was working at a dead-end job, and life in general wasn't going as planned," Stetson recalls. "The song talks about coping with a lack of control and direction."
While "Reconnaissance" is, in some respects, a tune about foundering in the world of work, it seems to be a larger statement about wasted potential and the disappointment that can ensue when numerous dreams go unrealized. Lyrics like "Sometimes I wish just to collapse under the coming stampede / I'd rather endure gravity's embrace / Will you even miss me when I'm gone?" could easily be about a soul-draining love affair or a foiled attempt at artistic greatness.
That's the wonderful irony: The song itself is a success, even as it explores themes of floundering and failure. After revving up with a guitar jam that sounds like a fuzzy, sped-up section of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," it turns into a tune fit for dancing -- or a heck of a lot of head bobbing.
And though the melody is sweet, Stetson and his bandmates, bassist Peter Clark and drummer Matt Hertenstein, don't sugar-coat their message: When life gives you lemons, it takes more than lemonade to make things right again. Luckily, a good song can go a long way in repairing the damage.
Listen to an MP3 of "Reconnaissance" in the related files at right. More music by Mirrors for Windows is available on the its Bandcamp profile and MySpace page. Check out the band play a live show at the Frequency on Sunday, August 29.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.