If you haven’t already heard “No Mirrors,” the critically acclaimed new single by indie pop goddess Mariel Darling, the chances that you’re going to in the very near future are between ninety-nine and one hundred percent. The song is everywhere, and it really isn’t all that hard to see exactly why. 2018 hasn’t been the most interesting year I’ve spent reporting on new music, and you could even say that we’ve been living in a sort of pop music recession since at least 2016. Times are tough, but out of obscurity Mariel Darling, a sixteen-year-old who has been writing music for seven years, arrived, surveyed and has come to rule over her entire scene without much dispute. Anyone who thought pop was dead has been soundly proven incorrect with “No Mirrors,” and Darling is just getting started.
Both the video and single versions of “No Mirrors” are driven by a dark ominousness that comes undone under the weight of Darling’s exquisite vocals, which can range from suffocating to airy and light (she tends to run the spectrum between both liberally). There’s no confusing for a second where we’re at in the song, because the timber of her voice won’t allow us to forget that the chorus is coming up or we’re approaching a break. She’s very good with her cues and has the precision of an electronic metronome; I’ve heard artists that had been in this business longer than she’s even been alive who aren’t as on point as she is in this track.
“No Mirrors” isn’t a one-sided pop affair, and by that, I mean that the lyrics are equally matched by the music. A lot of artists who play to a similar crowd that Mariel Darling does don’t spend as much time crafting each aspect of their sound, and their material suffers greatly as a result. When you’re not overly concerned with the big cash prizes, fame and lust of the public, you’re free to be as open and creative as you want, and that’s when a song like “No Mirrors” is really allowed to grow into its own and become a classic. I wish other musicians Darling’s age would take a page from her book and adhere to the rule of patience, but again I suppose that’s what makes this singer such a unique find.
In a music scene that is loaded down with fakes and copies, Mariel Darling is a true original who lives by the virtues of her creed. The music comes before everything else, and the littlest of the details are the ones that need the most attention. Her ethos beckons the early days of the blue collar recording artist, but her technique is very dated to the here and now. Keeping both of these attributes in mind, I have absolutely no qualms with certifying Mariel Darling as the best new artist to emerge from the left side of the dial in 2018. “No Mirrors” is out now, and hopefully I won’t have to wait too long before I can review her debut LP.
-review by Jodi Marxbury