Compared to the lo-fi sweetness of You Think It's Like This, But
Really It's Like This, Mirah obviously had a bigger recording
kitty for follow-up Advisory Committee. "Cold Cold Water"
kicks off like a high-stakes battle, and the album is touched up with
musical flourishes that can either pretty up a song or make it seem
The quirky accordion swagger of "Light the Match" and
pump-organ-plus-programmed-beats of "Recommendation" have an emphatic
charm, but the lusty whipcracks and cheesy bass of "The Garden" sound
like a bad '80s glam leftover. While "Make It Hot" and "Apples in the
Trees" both worked in their acoustic simplicity on the Cold Cold
Water EP, Mirah tacks on an unnecessary piano and fuzzy guitar
climax to the first song and an ornate choir section to the
conclusion of the other. (The additional drumming on "Apples in the
Trees" does give the song an indelibly simple pickup, though.)
Pickiness aside, Advisory Committee is a more sophisticated
album than the meek but affecting You Think It's Like This....
Mirah's sweet-as-maple-syrup vocals, her sultry tough resolve, but
more importantly, her considered, intensely fetching melodies, are a
pleaser. Even when she tones down and becomes more insular (e.g.
"Special Death," "Make It Hot"), Mirah never sways from her plucky
pop bearings. The remote organ drone and soft-pitched vocals on
"After You Left" plays simply and affectingly; on that one, Mirah
sounds quite like The Sunday's Harriet Wheeler.
Like her lyrical approach to love ("You've gone so far but now you
know/ How rough it is to let me go/ So let me recommend that you
think twice/[I always give the best advice]"), Mirah's upfront, brash
take on melodies and music is simultaneously cute and nervy. And
overall, her flirtation with instrumental trickery and grand sounds
makes sense when paired with punchy, tuneful compositions.
The one befuddling aspect of Advisory Committee, however, is
its title. Whereas the themes of hearts a-straying, hanging out by
apple trees, and burning up (both emotionally and à la
Mt. St. Helen's) firm up an obvious narrative to the album,
Advisory Committee as a name fails to hint at this context. So
while this indie-pop chanteuse may bewilder us when it comes to her
album-christening decisions, this much is obvious: Mirah's
cool-then-flushed vocals and sweetly idiosyncratic songs could win
over most committees.