Careful readers will know that lo-fi music makes an occasional appearance here, but it’s more accident than statement. I am not a fan of lo-fi for the sake of its lo-fi-ness; I am a fan of good songs, and when they happen to be constructed in a lo-fi environment, hooray for that, because it’s another worthy three or four minutes of music unleashed in the world.
“Hands Are Tied” is a particular marvel, a song both superbly crafted and distinctly attuned to its lo-fi setting—so attuned in fact that you almost don’t notice how lo-fi it is. That, to me, is a brilliant accomplishment. The key is the warmth of the sound. Bathed in reverb, the song still feels lucid and distinct. The keyboard, guitar, and the bass all but melt together, sketching lazy joint melodies over a drum beat at once urgent and welcoming. This is one of those songs that you can take a slice of at any point and find all sorts of interesting and wonderful things happening. I particularly like the woodwind-y synth melody that chimes in after the phrase “always the same,” first heard at 1:45. I am charmed as well by the very end of the song, how you can hear the bass turn off, which in that one sound/gesture embodies the song’s lo-fi warmth.
Now based in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the three men calling themselves Mirror Lady first started playing together while students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “Hands Are Tied” is from the band’s debut recording, an EP entitled Roman Candles, which was self-released last month and is available via Bandcamp on a “name your price” basis.