Review Summary: cathartic stuff for when you feel "never enuff"
Mansions have always been a very near and dear band to me. So there is definitely some bias on my end that I would just rather wave around now before an angry commenter decides that my opinion isn’t allowed to be my opinion, but I digress, the internet (can and) has been eating my ass out about my passion for a certain few albums, with Dig Up The Dead
especially leaving a mark upon conversations of “most cohesive” albums of all time, and even with their more jumbled records, Mansions are able to match (and upheave) their traditional songwriting styles that put them on the map in the first place. The singer-songwriting masterminds that make up the main duo of Mansions, both Christopher Browder and Robin Dove respectfully, have already created their masterpiece 10 years ago with Dig Up The Dead
. Then, they did it t again 2 years later with Doom Loop
........ and for, good measure I suppose, they randomly dropped an EP with a bulky synth sound in the form of 2017’s Deserter
, as well as a plethora of impeccably recorded acoustic albums, and well….
…..It always comes down to the Big Bad
in one way or another. When the pandemic hit in early-mid 2020, the last thing I was expecting was for Mansions to release their best selection of songs since Dig Up The Dead
, if not ever, right in the middle of all of the unfolding and overstimulating chaos of it all. The album came as a sonic supernova in the form of the nearly-overwhelming expression of existential angst, but specifically to those people that may never get over that over-encumbering mindset. I won’t lie, the ambient and almost looming synths used (no matter how fuzzy they may be) only act as a bit of sugar on the habanero that you’ll find in the band’s lyrical content. Speaking of lyrical content, Mansions have always had top-tier emo leaning Tumblr-friendly lyrics like La Dispute and Touché Amoré with actual nuance and interpretation so if that’s up your alley, so hey i got some double-edged new album to check out!
If you actually got this far enough into the piece, I do realize 2020’s heartfeltly crafted Big Bad
is what it sounds like I’m leading up to, but even before I could fully get my thoughts out cohesively on the record, they decided to throw everyone, even their most devout fans, a sudden curveball, by recording much darker and more subtle takes on what perhaps could be their best curation of songs with this year’s Old Best Friends
, acting as a play off of their first “real” album according to the band. So I thought it would only be appropriate to make this entire piece a giant looping curveball for anyone reading, and I’m happy to embrace that, regardless of how much I’m pushing the limit.
Mansions had been supplying fans steadily with music since their dark and almost minimalistically synth ridden Big Bad
came out, with rerecordings of fan favorite deep-cuts “High Numbers” and covers like “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo. But before you judge, remember how much the bridge of that track kicks ass, and if you know you know, otherwise I can’t help you.
But Tthis process seemingly led to Christopher and Robin to refine their sound they’ve been building up since they shed their angst in between 2013’s Doom Loop
and 2017’s Deserter
, with them then yet again
surprise releasing e a collection of reworked songs that embrace the dreamy, folk influenced emo, and bring an updatinge to songs we’ve never heard right next to each other before. But what’s in theory the best thing about this album is that its pulls off everything Mansions have learned in the past 10-15 years into an incredibly welcoming and hypnotic dozen tracks, ranging from arguably the most wasted non-single song they’ve ever made with a much more vulnerable and stripped back version of “Never Enuff”. Watching these older tracks fluidly transition right into each other is incredible, whether the song is from 2009 of 2021.
Mansions have always been a band that have represented the “Benjamin Button” effect of popularity, with them immediately hitting the scene with a brick in 2011 once Dig Up The Dead
initially released to very small but universal praise. So you might be thinking ”“WRAP IT THE *** UP, WHAT’S SO SPECAL ABOUT THIS ALBUM IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT 3 AND A HALF ORIGIN STORIES TO BACK IT JESUS ***ING CHRIST…..”
. and well,,,, to that I do concede that I am solely built to surpass word minimums/limits, especially ones that I don't actually have to abide by anymore. But I do want to let you know that organic and original music is all around you, you just have to dig past the dead.
With having every single song on Old Best Friends
respectively be one of their most impactful tracks by the band in their own right individually, even including the deeper-cuts and some previously unreleased tracks, Old Best Friends
is like Christopher and Robin taking everything they’ve done right and learned from the past 10-15 years of theirbmmmmjand putting them together aside to fit this specific style of minimalist/ambient recordings. These songs were originally conceived as indie/emo dream-rock and are now curated into possibly one of the most unique and sentimental representation of their discography, it’s essentially their greatest hits, redone, and refined. If anything, Old Best Friends
is further proof that Mansions’ music inarguably stands the test of time, and the way they’re able to improve on them years later is enigmatic to say the least.