Since forming in high school, Brisbane band The Goon Sax—the trio of Riley Jones, Louis Forster, and James Harrison, best friends who took turns writing, singing, and playing each instrument—were celebrated for their unpretentious, kinetic homemade pop. Mirror ll, The Goon Sax’s third album and first for Matador, is something else entirely: a new beginning, a multi-dimensional eclectic journey of musical craftsmanship that moves from disco to folk to no wave skronk with staggering cohesion. Gone are the first-person insecurities of their school days—they’ve been made expansive, more universal, more weird. 

On their debut album, 2016’s Up to Anything, it was their candid affection and scrappy instrumentation that drew praise; 2018’s We’re Not Talking was exalted for the same—their massive choruses, a sharpening of their craft, then with an addition of horns, strings, piano, and castanets to their guitar/bass/drums.  

 Mirror ll was the result of three years of writing, and some considerable time spent apart: Louis relocated to Berlin and worked at a cinema (he sings in German on the track “Bathwater”), Riley and James formed an angular post-punk band called Soot. All three experimented with abstract, atonal sounds before recapturing the essence of The Goon Sax: “pop melody,” Louis explains. “The first two albums are inherently linked. They had three-word titles; they went together. This one definitely felt like going back to square one and starting again, and that was really freeing.” 

 Mirror II is intense, the sum of everything that has always made The Goon Sax great: robust sprechgesang, raw lyrical candor, ascending guitar pop structures that would make the most storied jangle bands blush, elevated into their newfound narrative verisimilitude and expanded sonic experimentations. Each member’s idiosyncratic style comes across on record: Riley’s bubblegum noise is more present than ever before (“Desire,” “Tag”) reflecting her heavy Les Rallizes Dénudés and Keiji Haino influence, and some Kylie Minogue-inspired “sparkle sound,” as she calls it, for good measure. Louis’ moody, supernatural avant-pop (“Psychic,” “In the Stone,”) stems from an admiration for HTRK, Young Marble Giants, Stereolab, The Motels’ “Total Control,” Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” The 1975’s “Tootimetootimetootime,” Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick and Diane Di Prima’s Memoirs of a Beatnik in equal measure—and remains distinctly his own—comparisons to his father, The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster, be damned. James’ psychedelic folk (“Carpetry,” “Caterpillars”) is no doubt studied from The Walker Brothers, Jandek, Felt, and Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett. “I got into Syd Barrett’s lyrics because they were hazy, relatable and honest but up in the air. That’s how I felt,” he says of his whimsical songs. “I was experiencing romantic love for the first time, it felt out of my control, and there’s something about Syd Barrett’s lyrics… it doesn’t just come from inside us; it is the moments that are happening to us as well.” 

Those uninhibited combinations wouldn’t work for most bands, but then again, The Goon Sax aren’t most bands: their deep trust in one another is the very spirit of Mirror ll. “I was reading The Philosophy of Andy Warhol the other day. He said something so perfect… ‘I’m sure I’m going to look in the mirror and see nothing. People are always calling me a mirror, and if a mirror looks into a mirror, what is there to see?’” Riley recites. “The name [Mirror II] was totally arbitrary to begin with, but it became about reflecting on reflection: we all get so influenced by each other. You find other people who show you yourself, who you are.” 

“This group of teenagers from Brisbane could be your favorite new band” – NPR
“A miraculous and hot-blooded indie rock record that reveals three ambitious, flawed, and wildly talented musicians” – Noisey
“A glorious pop album that perfectly captures those awkward confusions on the road to adulthood” – Mojo
“This is the sound of growing up smart” – Pitchfork
“Classic Brisbane pop” – Uncut
“Like living in a great coming-of-age film” The Guardian
“Impossibly charming Aussie indie-pop” – Rolling Stone
“Extraordinarily gifted songwriters with whip-smart pop instincts” – Billboard