London-based songwriter Jeremy Tuplin first caught out ear back in 2017 with his debut album, I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut. A record pitched somewhere between the space-folk exploration of David Bowie and the candid, jet-black humour of Bill Callahan. It is a record that seems to question our place in the universe, almost asking whether human beings are even all that important in the grand scheme of the universe; yet underneath that was a deeply personal streak, someone seeking to escape, like the titular astronaut and float away from the troubles of everyday living.
If, I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut, was about wanting to escape humanity, then the follow up, Pink Mirror feels like a record of falling back in love with it. Here Jeremy doesn’t just scratch the surface of human emotion, he dives deep into its darkest corners. The titular Pink Mirror serving as a repeated representation of the rose-tinted spectacles through which we view our world and ourselves. Through the record Jeremy paints rosy-pictures of some of the darker aspects of humanity; scorned lovers, arrogant posers and self-doubt laden men clinging on in the face of societal evolution. Pink Mirror is released this Friday on Trapped Animal Records, and you can listen to it here ahead of its release.
The album’s centre piece is the title track, Pink Mirror, it’s about the deeply human condition of wanting to see the best in yourself, and the flaws in others; “the pink mirror has an excellent sense of perspective, it won’t shy away from global atrocities, it is not afraid to highlight what’s very wrong in everyone and how none of this could ever apply to little old me”. The rose-tinted mirror takes an almost Dorian Gray-like quality, as our own ability to ignore our flaws, hides an ugly underbelly, here depicted with a dark comedic delivery, as the title character is, “looking up weird shit on the internet, like how to murder your ex-lover and get away with it”. Like much of the record, Jeremy’s characters are caricatures, not reality of course, but equally there’s the feeling these could be exaggerated versions of real people. It’s a trick he repeats on Love’s Penitentiary, a lo-fi pop song built around drum-machine and a jangling guitar The Cure would be proud of. Lyrically, the track depicts a jealous lover, who gradually morphs from quietly paranoid about his partners relationship with, “that fucking waiter”, to become a full on criminal over the course of the songs three minute run-time; “I put a bug on your telephone line, I manipulate you baby and I’m fully aware that the crime here is crazed jealousy and I’m doing my time in love’s penitentiary”.
While much of Pink Mirror seems to be Jeremy looking out on the world, there’s still room for some poignant and personal moments. Can We Be Strangers is like listening to a love song in reverse, as Jeremy tried to unpick a relationship and revert back to before it even began. Perhaps the most honest, and exciting moment on the record is The Machine; over a stomping almost glam-rhythm track, we find Jeremy alone in a Barcelona bar, a few too many drinks to the good, wondering why, “I look at all the girls, why don’t they look at me?” What follows is a stunning dissection of the difficulty of being both a musician and a human being in the modern world, we find Jeremy fretting about his contribution to society, his success as a man and as a musician. At the heart it’s a song that is fretting about relevancy, questioning whether artists can survive in a money driven society; “anything I think, do, feel or see it doesn’t mean a thing to market driven policy. I’m an animal honey I’ve got flaws and I’ve got feelings, I got very human issues on the cusp of the rise of the machine”.
The whole record seems to build to the penultimate track, Humans, this is the moment where the album seems to come full circle, where Jeremy reconciles with humanity as a whole: “humans, I love you, despite my seemingly best intentions not to”. It’s the moment where he seems to realise that for all our differences, we all have flaws and talents, we are all delightfully, brutally, beautifully human. As the music takes a turn towards a woozy bar-room sway, he launches into a list of some human’s beings, some great, some perfectly flawed; from Peter Crouch to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Melinda Messenger to George Bush. It becomes something of a triumphant love-in, an embracing of humanity that’s wonderfully delivered with a warmth and nothing resembling judgement.
Pink Mirror is a record that floats between the personal and a wider discussion on modern living. Ultimately it thrives on Jeremy’s ability to see himself in the actions of others. Like the best songwriters, he is equally a great observer, his characters even in their most exaggerated, sometimes grotesque forms are still relatable and deeply human. Pink Mirror is an honest, exciting and entirely compelling record.