Album Review: Mansions - 'Doom Loop'

17 November 2013 | 4:55 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Their best release yet.

Christopher Browder’s musical outlet, Mansions, has been understated for quite some time now. But, the accessible yet unique contents of ‘Doom Loop’ show promise to end that phase and deliver the band some much-deserved appreciation. Robin Dove, who did some vocal work for the group’s previous album, ‘Dig Up the Dead’, now holds the only other solid band position on bass and occasional vocals.

Despite being primarily recorded in Browder’s apartment, with John Momberg (Appleseed Cast, Koufax) and Jim Vollentine (Spoon) brought in to record and engineer drums, it is surely, even in November, one of the best releases of the year. A late contender.

Just as ‘Dig Up the Dead’ was, ‘Doom Loop’ is an album that is best played loud. ‘Heavy Dungeon Echo’, a song released earlier in the year on a split with John Nolan, serves as a good indicator of a midpoint between the two albums, with the fuzz pop sound being taken even further in 'Doom Loop'. There are catchier hooks, some brighter guitars, and even some vocals run through guitar pedals.

The release of the full album bridges the gap between earlier released songs, such as ‘Climbers’ and ‘Flowers in My Teeth’, that are rather distinguished when compared to each other, and shows how the variance in sounds can actually fit together seamlessly.

Climbers’, ‘Two Suits’, and ‘100 Degrees’ are definite standouts despite the album being very solid in all of its tracks, creating a cohesive whole.

Two Suits’ starts with a faintly dissonant phrase on guitar and ends with Browder and Dove shouting about “80 fuckin’ dollars” just as a proper punk band would. Dove’s vocal parts in the song are lovely, think of Sherri DuPree Bemis of Eisley, and add a small twist to the older Mansions sound. Even more appreciation for this track is in order after the band recently revealed that the loud vocals in the song were recorded in the backseat of a Honda Insight in a mall parking lot. How about that?!

Songs like ‘Last One In’ achieve an almost impossible balance between distorted guitars, pop hooks, and slight electronic traits. There are synth parts alternating with distorted guitar, high vocal backing presented against woeful whines from Browder, and an unrepeated chant of “hey, hey, hey”.

100 Degrees’, the album’s slowest track, captures the duality of optimistic pessimism and the lost cause mentality of Christopher Browder better than ever. The choir vocals in the song are chilling. ‘100 Degrees’ sets magnificent lines like, “you keep looking around, for a bright white something” alongside “all of your dreams will die, like shadows who walked outside, when that daylight gets too heavy”.

Mansions’ ‘Doom Loop’ is both accessible and unique. It’s the kind of album that will make you realise you don’t hate pop music, you just hate most pop music. Even this late on, it is without doubt one of the best releases of the year.

1. Climbers

2. Flowers In My Teeth

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3. Two Suits

4. La Dentista

5. Out For Blood

6. The Economist

7. If You're Leaving

8. Last One In

9. 100 Degrees

10. Falling Down