Mansions - Mansions (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Mansions (2008)


First impressions are proving to be futile for me when it comes to Doghouse's recent signings. When the label locked up San Diego's Weatherbox, I gave their MySpace player a cursory listen and dismissed it as uninspired Say Anything worship, only to be blown away by the proper EP that came months later. When they inked Louisville, KY's Mansions, I again gave the online material available a brief check and wondered what Doghouse heard in some dumb kid's mundane musical musings.

As it turns out, 23-year-old Christopher Browder is a lot smarter than I first gave him credit for. He's seemingly responsible for every part of the song compositions on his label debut, a self-titled EP comprised of two songs from a forthcoming full-length and two exclusive tracks, and those compositions are actually accomplished examples of brooding and mildly ambitious, surprisingly mature narratives.

Sure, Mansions carry traces of those certain past/present labelmates (namely, Say Anything and Weatherbox), but there's a blend of other musical elements that make his songs so alluring. With the slow, piano-speckled intro of opener "The Worst Part," one's certain to draw a comparison to demo-era Straylight Run (one of the more promising instances of that band's existence thus far), and later on, the sad bastard moping of the Honorary Title's Anything Else But the Truth bubbles up. That song and "Tangerine" have these heartfelt choruses that manage to soar on such subtle wings that nary one second seem forced.

Producer Mike Sapone gives the EP his wonderful, signature finish, with drastic dynamics in distortion and atmosphere -- so much to the point that towards the end of "Take It Back" and for much of closer "The Biggest Lie" (full of vague muttering and then a sincere acoustic finish), Mansions noticeably resemble post-Your Favourite Weapon Brand New. That's hardly a pitiful plane to be put on, colorful company that promises Mansions to write some really incredible songs down the line.

If you're basing the potential quality of Mansions off some free digital previews, make sure you really dig deep into them. Christopher Browder's talents would probably appreciate it.

The Worst Part
Take It Back