Since the 1999 release of the Eulogy for the Sick Child debut, Imperative Reaction has gone on to become of one the electro/industrial scene’s most prominent acts with catchy electronic melodies complemented by Ted Phelps’ darkly emotive vocals. After a brilliant self-titled album in 2011, things went quiet, and though the world was spinning on as Ted Phelps and the band came together to play a handful of live shows, new music wasn’t on the horizon… until now.
From the opening seconds, Mirror reestablishes what’s been true about Imperative Reaction for a little over two decades – that no one else sounds quite like this. Phelps has a way with the technology that’s distinct and engaging, especially when coupled with his piercing vocals, which are as crisp and striking as ever. “Split” is the perfect opening to the record, familiar to fans and a great introduction for newcomers, reaffirming that the programming remains as tight as ever. Lyrically, the album is what Imperative Reaction is known for – an intimate and raw feed of human emotions. Musically, the album is more similar to 2011’s self-titled record, but still firmly remains quintessential Imperative Reaction. “AlterEgo” is a perfect example of good musicianship as competently assembling the music, lyrics, and vocals into a coherent song that exists in harmony is what helps separate great artists from good, and good from mediocre. Phelps doesn’t shy away from using the exact words he wants and effectively making them fit with the music without the vocals becoming discordant to the rhythm or at odds with the melody.
Mirror is a masterwork from start to finish and is in this writer’s estimation already cemented as one of the best releases of 2021. The album soars through peaks and valleys alike with the same candid emotional spectrum that Imperative Reaction has always embodied; it’s so very human, and that’s what makes it speak to the very soul of the listener.