Dos Santos ‘City of Mirrors’ LP/CD (International Anthem) 5/5

My mother used to tell me that every person you meet is a messenger. Every relationship we have is there to teach us something, they are mirrors that can help us see parts of ourselves we might otherwise not be able to. No interaction is too small, nothing is meaningless if you are willing to see it. Dos Santos’ latest effort City of Mirrors brings this lesson to light. The Chicago band, however, doesn’t limit the mirror to just people, they remind us that relationships transcend mere bodies. Our relationship with the land, in particular borders, can be mirrors too. In City of Mirrors, Dos Santos argues that the physical borders that separate countries live inside of us. We are also the mirror and we can be the ones to embody alternatives. That comes through an understanding of how we are affected by borders, what they mean in our lives and how we decide to cross them, in this case through art.

Full of sweeping cinematic sounds, City of Mirrors reflects the Americas and our relationship with it. Combining traditional Latin sounds with contemporary ones, mimicking the contemporary human struggle. City of Mirrors somehow seems to capture it all, from pain and grief to joy and hopefulness, sometimes in the same song. This echoing of our present reality makes the album relatable and strangely comforting. It’s obvious in the details that Dos Santos put a lot of thought into each song. From the sonic flourishes in “Glorieta” to the way the drums penetrate your ears in “A Shot in the Dark”. It doesn’t hurt that Alex Chavez’s voice is a soothing balm, a disarming guide to your deepest self. Dos Santos has managed to capture a timelessness that takes you exactly where your journey demands. “Alma Cósmica” feels simultaneously ancient and current. “A Tu Lado” makes you want to move, not just your body on the dancefloor but your feet as you march to the next struggle. These songs are calls to action, what that action is is up to you – look to your mirror. Capping off this desperately beautiful album is “Lejos de Ti” a heartbreaking bilingual love letter to endings that reminds us that though nothing lasts forever there is still beauty to come.

Much like the people in our cities are mirrors, offering opportunities to transcend our darker parts, the borders of City of Mirrors reflect back to us who we are and who we might choose to be.

Molly Gallegos