Mansions

Doom Loop

Written by: TL on 25/01/2014 20:02:37

Seriously, who the hell is this band Mansions? The name strikes me as one I've seen around for ages but never paid attention to, at least not until one or two users mentioned them as a snub in the comments on Absolutepunk.net's 2013 albums of the year list. Turns out they've been around since 2007 when they released their first self-titled LP, which does or does not really count in their discography. The band's wikipedia entry frankly sounds like they've been reaching for five years' worth of excuses rather than really get behind either 07's "Mansions" or the two full lengths that's followed it, 09's "New Best Friends" and 11's "Dig Up The Dead", yet you may ask, would I be reaching back for a 2013 album - however snarkily - if it wasn't good?

The answer is no, I would not, so yes, Mansions's third (or fourth) album "Doom Loop" is good. Really good. It's hard to explain, but since I'm obliged to try, I'd say the album sounds like Death Cab For Cutie with a defiant, 90s slacker attitude, strumming mid-paced, simple chord progressions on roughly 400 guitars at the same time. Forgive my exaggeration but you get the point: Mansions rumble, unloading the fuzzy, overdriven walls of chords of the kind you'd expect to immerse you at an indie, lo-fi noise/pop concert, leaving your ears ringing for days. And this is amazing because apart from the drums, the duo home-recorded the whole thing in the lead-singer/guitarist Christopher Browder's apartment. More importantly however, on top of guitar-pedal power that rivals that of bands like Japandroids or The Joy Formidable, you also get steady, forceful beats, songstructures that get to the point and aren't coy about it and singing that - while it sticks loyally to simple melodies - passes over typical indie-rock lethargy and rather sounds like it actually wants to be heard.

When do you get it then? Well you get it from the very first track of course, when else? In keeping with "Doom Loop"'s overall style, opener "Climbers" kicks straight into a high pitched guitar tremolo and a stupifying bass groove that will haunt your brains for weeks. With such a foundation laid down by bassist Robin Dove, Browder simply has to subdue his strums in the verse, sing a basic melody that gets stronger in the chorus, repeat and summon Dove back in for "ah-aah" backing vox while he reiterates the chorus towards the end. That's it: Song number one you can hear on repeat 'til your headphones give out.

Fortunately, not all the songs on "Doom Loop" are quite as irresistable as its opener, some of the are just ordinarily catchy - see for instance the boy/girl vocal exchange that ends "Two Suits" or the choruses to "The Economist" and "Last One In". I write "fortunately" because with the replayability of the record's best moments, it would take a week to get past each new track and you wouldn't get to listen to much other music in a while. Even when the album isn't busily overwriting every string of data in your head with "replay me" however, it seems like it's installing it like a subroutine, via the overall enjoyable atmosphere. It's not like it would be completely impossible to find something different to listen to, it's just that when a song like "100 Degrees" is blanking out the sound of the real world, doing so no longer feels very important.

Like novocaine for the soul, "Doom Loop"'s overall excellently arranged note-patterns and noise levels will simply hypnotize you and put you in a good place that you'll want to revisit regularly for a while. Its only downside is the obvious boundary its aesthetics operates within, and really its relatively tight definition of style is just as much its strength as it is a weakness. It's the kind of record that puts the cards on the table on first listen, allowing you to understand exactly what it has and hasn't got to offer, and if you approach it on its own, highly accessible-yet-characteristic terms, you must ask yourself if you have some kind of musical ADHD if you can't settle into these grooves and enjoy them.

8

Download: Climbers, Two Suits, The Economist, 100 Degrees
For The Fans Of: Death Cab For Cutie cranked up to 11, Japandroids played in slow motion, Weezer, Pavement
Listen: facebook.com/thisismansions

Release Date 12.11.2013
Clifton Motel

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