Mirage Box — Contents Under Pressure
If “Juarez” was your first introduction to the Florida songwriting duo Mirage Box (child of songwriter/musicians Nick Coppola and Chris Capozza), you understand why I was perplexed by finding their music compared to Billy Joel and Elton John. Then I heard their original release as a group, a 2014 cover version of Pilot’s 1974 hit, “Magic.” It is crisp, faithful to the original and shows the duo’s respect for that era’s music, particularly in their careful recreation of its sounds. Keeping this seeming discrepancy in mind, I re-examined Juarez and the other three original songs on their 2015 EP, Contents Under Pressure. The result is respect for this EP as a demonstration of their ability to bring multiple musical flavors under their dominion.
The EP contains the full version of Juarez, which comes in at 6:39 compared to the pared-down 4:35 minutes of the radio version. Juarez is the group’s current airplay focus and highlights their craftsmanship and production skills. Although the structure and much of the instrumentation and vocalization feels very formulaic, closer listening is rewarded by a tight bass line here, a tasty horn harmony there, and the singer’s excellent matching of his emotion with the lyrical intent.
Listening to the EP is a lot like changing radio stations: each song embodies a certain type of music, such as Last Beautiful Woman which clearly recalls the simplicity and smoothness of America or Bread. The overall effect is positive—these guys know how to pay homage to their musical ancestors—but loses something upon repeated playing. The best example is the song Rage: despite interesting conversational phrasing, the voice is not used very emotionally, particularly in comparison to Juarez. This forms a disconnect between the lyrical phrasing with its long, lilting lines, and the mood that the words and music are trying to convey. Form does not match function in this song, and the rage goes unvoiced.
This collection certainly avoids being pigeon-holed to a single genre, and Nick and Chris have sufficiently proven their musicianship and studio skills in recreating specific musical flavors. Yet while the EP is enjoyable, its value lies in the promise of what is to come. Despite their mimickry mastery, the sounds still make the rules. So while this EP is proof that they have gathered all the hues they need, now comes the time for them to truly create by making the palate serve their needs. If they use their mastery of the techniques and sounds of the past to craft a new sound, the musicianship behind Mirage Box will prove to be no mirage at all—and let the box be opened.
Mirage Box @ CD BABY: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/MirageBox