Listening to Reflections, it’s fair to say that MiXE1 has put forth an intense amount of effort to surpass the band’s 2014 Starlit Skin debut. With Mike Evans and Lee Towson adding drummer Lee O’Brien to the ranks, the band has crafted a pulsating hybrid of electronic and alt. rock stylings on this album that is sure to turn a few heads. Angular guitar and synth riffs pepper the album, giving songs like “Get Out Alive,” “Authors,” and “Spectrum” the kind of gritty power usually relegated to alternative and metal bands, but infused with infectious hooks and soaring vocal melodies that seem poised for mainstream radio airplay; this is especially true of the latter track, as “Spectrum” just sounds like a radio rock hit on steroids, while the rhythmic vocals and scratchy synths on “Authors” make it one of the album’s unexpected gems. Preceding the album by two years was the “Don’t Break Apart” single, its rhythmic beats and vocals reminiscent of a hip-hop influence, the emotive chorus proving to be another standout, along with a glitchy crowd chant that sounds like something Celldweller might’ve thought up; unfortunately, the song seems to be build to a nice crescendo, but it’s a bit too meandering and repetitive to really achieve the power its aiming for. For the most part, the songs are engaging, with “Monochrome” bearing an effervescent accompaniment by Professional Murder Music’s Roman Marisak, the martial drum patterns and subtly mixed finger snaps coloring the track with a bit of percussive intrigue, while the clean chorus-drenched guitars in the verses of “Creations” create a spacey feel that is augmented in the second verse by Mankind is Obsolete’s Natasha Cox… although, her familiar sneer also appears in the rather abrasive chorus. And then we have Rabbit Junk’s JP Anderson delivering his more guttural growling on “Nexus,” which plays well against Evans’ screamo screeching and brings some much needed muscle to what turns out to be a rather fun track. Finally, we have the closing track, “Quasar,” whose intro sounds like an ambient synth soundtrack from the late ‘70s, broken by the pulsing bass, crystalline strums of guitar, and ethereal vocal harmonies that evoke the post-grunge shoegaze balladry of the mid ‘90s. The skittering breakbeats enter, the tension rises, and the song erupts into a furiously anthemic electro/rocker reminiscent of Japan’s Boom Boom Satellites… until the vocals abruptly stop, the coda fades into static, and we’re left with an ending that is somewhat suspect. If you’ve noticed this writer pointing out several comparisons to other acts, that’s because it’s MiXE1’s primary weakness on Reflections. The instrumentals sound like a more polished version of Pitchshifter’s late ‘90s/early ‘00s output, while the overall blending of metal and electro-pop, along with the vocal timbre, sounds almost exactly like Blue Stahli. However, this might just be a result of MiXE1 belong to a particular niche. The album is no sophomore slump by any means, as Evans, Towson, and O’Brien have certainly improved upon the band’s earlier work.