It’s not a difficult thing to describe the sound of Mini Mansions. They are like a hybrid of The Beatles and Monsters of Folk: psychedelic, alternative, electronic, indie-all at the same time. And yet it isn’t as simple as that, is it? They have their own signature flavor peppered with electric guitars, buzzing synths, deep driving bass lines, pounding live drums (or sometimes simple muffled drum programming), ethereal vocals with just the right amount of reverb applied, not to mention excellent musicianship and writing. MM is a three-man band made up of Zach Dawes, Tyler Parkford, and Michael Shuman (from Queens of the Stone Age).
Their self-titled debut album reminds everybody that once upon a time rock music was a much freer form of expression than what the current mandates of industry pressure-in the name of selling records and getting on the radio-has made it to be. No songs made with cookie cutters on this one. And yet, all this being said, you don’t get a “throwback” vibe when listening, but rather a refreshing feeling of relief that something great has finally come along.
“Monk” is a track choc full of soul and energy. One of the things I appreciate the most about their sound is the low end. MM does not shy away from letting you feel the bass. This song-as many of the others-have plenty of changes to keep things interesting. And though it’s only for a second, I love the sudden screaming towards the very end. Nice touch.
Then there’s “Kiddie Hypnogogia” which starts out like a beautiful piano ballad. However, the jig is up around forty seconds in when the drums start kicking, smoothing the way for the enormous wall of sound that floods your ears during the chorus. A similar onslaught of sound is applied at around 2:35 on “Majik Marker”, right after you hear the words “Don’t tell your mother.”
My favorite song is “Thriller Escapade.” Again, they juxtapose a soft opening verse with a head-banging chorus. The trick is to have all the wonderful instruments lay dormant as the listener is drawn into the lyrics, then drop a bomb on their heads. And you know what, it works every time. I love it.
To sum up, this is one of the most innovative and creative rock albums I’ve heard all year, and the year is almost over. It’s the kind of music both you and your ex-hippie dad will enjoy-at least, I know mine will. MM’s self-titled debut album is an achievement worthy of praise.