Pop music has been leaving a lot to be desired as of late, and it hasn’t just been critics who have been saying so. From coast to coast and from one end of the globe to the next, audiences have been craving something different from the everyday, run of the mill pop music that has come to be the only thing mainstream radio seems to want to play. Plastic themes like cheating girlfriends, buying cars with cash just to crash them and trying to discover the meaning of life through a lot of pointless self-indulgence are archaic to the millennial listener; they need something more calculated, more detailed and frankly full of more life. That’s where Mariel Darling and her song “No Mirrors” come in. In the song, Darling literally looks deep into a mirror and tells us what she sees, and it isn’t someone who fits into average terminology or characterization. She sees an individual, a free spirit, a person who isn’t able to fit in with the rest of the crowd and wouldn’t want to anyway. Her words are cutting and true, and they represent the start of an important new movement that pop music needs to embrace.
“No Mirrors” would work well even if it was just a straight vocal track rather than the multifaceted electro-pop ballad that it is in this setting, and that says something about the quality of Darling’s skills as a performer. She doesn’t need a synthesizer or even a band behind her to get her message to the people, and the wisdom that perpetuates her narrative isn’t the kind that takes a lot of years on earth to obtain. It takes common sense logic and a lot of love for humanity itself. In reality, it takes someone like Mariel Darling and her knack for looking at things through the lens of optimism, which isn’t something that we should try, it’s something that we need to put into practice as a people and as a society at large. If everyone spent more time being themselves rather than trying to blend in, we might actually learn what genuine diversity can do for us all.
I cannot wait to hear a full length studio album from Mariel Darling. Based on the sprawling nature of “No Mirrors,” I don’t think it’s premature to suggest that she’s ready and willing to take the leap into primetime and come up with her head above water. Unlike a half century ago when an artist only needed a couple of singles to generate praise and credibility from critics and audiences alike, it takes an entire record for most of my peers to really start giving am artist the credit that they deserve. I don’t know whether or not I would want a full blown electronica album from Darling or something more squarely focused on her vocals because I think that either one could and would be a commercial smash hit. I’m sure I’ll have the chance to find out in the next couple of years as her sound continues to expand and become a brand all its own.