There’s a real sense of victory in the sound of Nottingham-based artist Louise Hudson’s new single ‘Hall of Mirrors’. Its like the track is sticking two fingers up to the havoc that body dysmorphia will play on your relationship with yourself. Taking cues from indie rock icons like The Cranberries and Alanis Morisette, Hudson shares her experience with us in a cinematic, nostalgic sound that packs a punch from the word go. The first few glittering seconds of the song launch into a driving beat. This beat then acts as a backbone for the track and a lovely, gritty complement to Hudson’s softer, melodic vocals.
Whilst this sound soars on and suggests that Hudson is writing ‘Hall of Mirrors’ after deciding it was ‘time to grab the bull by the horns’, her lyrics don’t soften or shy away from anything in her experience of dysmorphia. Opening admission ‘I wish I was tranquil as a sweet summer breeze blowing through the trees’ declares Hudson to be an eye willing to romanticise everything except herself, later only seeing solace in ‘oblivion’.
As someone of a similar age to Hudson (high fives for all of the twenties crew panicking as their youth fizzles away indoors), I know where she’s coming from. We were the first generation growing up with social media. Initially you couldn’t do anything without a Facebook photo album upload, then Instagram and Snapchat took off, securing the idea that young people’s use of social media was about images of themselves. Accompanied by a currency of likes and comments, you weren’t just sharing parts of your life. You were pitting yourself against others in competition for attention, always and without break. You come to see things that aren’t in your life more regularly than what is. What is is unimportant, or simply unseen, in exchange for what is aspirational. Hudson deftly captures this turmoil’s cost in a poignant context when she sings ‘I know that I’m a disgrace for wanting to erase all the features my mother gave.’
At times, I find myself wishing I could hear Hudson’s vocals more clearly in the mix. Some words are lost, and the words feel important here. But I do love the contrast of her easy tone against the energy of the production. And this production is well balanced across the length of the track. I was worried the full force from so early on would be reductive but ‘Hall of Mirrors’ has great variation, like the change into the last chorus. Hudson is clearly an accomplished writer. It would have been easy to not write some of the parts in such a confessional song, and let the weight of her words carry it. But the track is well developed. The little guitar solo is a great detail. I wonder how ambitious Hudson would go with that live. ‘Hall of Mirrors’ would be a strong moment in a live set.
I love this kind of indie rock. It isn’t pretentious, but accessible and powerful. ‘Hall of Mirrors’ is a cathartic expulsion of the trappings of dysmorphia, and I want to shout along with it. It’s definitely a single to feel proud of, let alone the fact it’s only Hudson’s second release. Her debut ‘Denial’ came out earlier this year, to the attention of BBC Introducing, and she has begun work on an EP to come in 2021. With ‘Hall of Mirrors’ being one of my favourite tracks that I’ve heard from an indie artist this year, I can’t wait to get my ears on that EP.
‘Hall of Mirrors’ is out today, 13th November.