For an overnight success, Gotye (pronounced “goaty-eh") is quite a slow burner. He’s been popular in Australia, his homeland, since his first single, "Learnalilgivinanlovin" was released in 2006.
His second album, Like Drawing Blood won iTunes Album of the Year for 2008, then in November last year, Gotye won three prestigious Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) awards for the single "Somebody That I Used to Know", which went to number one in the UK singles chart earlier this month.
Gotye launches into his number one hit early in the evening. Is this to show the crowd that there's more to him than the one hit we’ve been listening to (over 71, 000,227 times, and counting) on You Tube? Sadly, after this initial excitement, the audience becomes a bit listless, maybe they expect all his songs to sound like this synthy, 80’s style pop-ballad with it’s catchy, instantly memorable lyrics.
Instead, the songs — from his recent album Making Mirrors— lay out Gotye’s range, from light ska, to pop and strange, synthed-up power ballads. The beauty of Gotye's work is it cherry-picks sounds from decades past, like 80s pop and glam rock and 90s dance beats, then throws in something new and experimental. It's familiar enough not to be alienating, but different enough to still feel fresh.
Each band member seems to be hitting and strumming several instruments at once, but still, some sounds are unexpected, like the artificially generated wet finger squeaking across a clean plate in “Don’t Worry, We’ll be Watching You”, a sinister and hypnotic song about cults. After getting accustomed to a sea of mutated keyboards and sampled distorted vocals, the simple piano chords and wholesome tambourines spring out unexpectedly from the 80’s style feel-good pop tune "I Feel Better". In "State of the Art", Gotye’s usually high register is distorted to a low funky growl to go with the reggae-esque beat.
The band’s attitude, like many of their songs, is disarmingly cheerful. Gotye himself is loose and unpretentious, to the point where he confesses “Bronte”, also from Making Mirrors, a moving, hymn-like tune with poignant lyrics, is all about a friend’s dog dying. Aside from wanting more profound meaning, the song shows yet another facet of an exciting artist we can't seem to get enough of; that's now 71, 287,253 You Tube hits.