Review by: Syd Spence
Album assigned by: Ali Ghoneim
1967, a mythical year in rock music. This year is when rock music began to explore new realms of musical possibility. R&B, Music Hall, Pop, Country, Folk, Blues, etc were transformed into a kaleidoscope of novelty. Likewise, people have been worshiping this year for decades, and Mini Mansions is another in a long line of nostalgia acts seeking to emulate that epoch.
Nostalgia is the key word here to describe Mini Mansions. This record sounds like the band really liked 1967, especially the Beatles’ Magical Mystery. And that is what they do, create psychedelic pop album with all those brit psych pop attributes. Harmonies, keyboards, astral lyrics, etc are all on display here, and well, i was bored literally midway through the first listen. Oh, they can create slightly catchy tunes probably on the par of one of those third string Brit psych groups like The Action or Kaleidoscope, but so what? This album was released in 2010! The epoch is gone, and I will say that if this record was recorded and released in 1967 it would be given all the acclaim and admiration of say Nirvana’s (the psych band) The Story of Simon Simopath. In other words, only record collectors scouring each and every record released during that period would even bother, and even then they would probably play it rarely.
That Nirvana album, as mediocre as it is, was at least was a product of it’s era. Mini Mansion’s debut is not. It’s the 21st century and paisley isn’t the hip new fashion. Perhaps, I’m being too harsh on Mini Mansions. I mean i too spent my time buried in the aura of ‘67, collecting every psychedelic relic i could get my hands on. I remember in college, going “Golly Geeze, I wish bands sounded like Piper era floyd again.” I’m as guilty of nostalgia worship as Mini Mansions, and i didn’t have the gumption to actually learn an instrument and make said such music. So kudos for that triumph..
Also, this is their first album made by relatively young dudes, perhaps in the future they will find their own sound, one that reflects novelty. There are plenty of examples of good bands releasing nostalgia pieces as their first record. The first one that pops up in my mind is Primal Scream, whose debut is just play ‘60s as much as possible. Later they released interesting genre crossing masterpieces like Vanishing Point and Screamadelica. So there is hope, but honestly, these days i don’t have any for rock bands.
See the production on this album is indicative of ourtime. It has all the digital perfection of a Mumford and Sons record. It’s bland, digital, and has no warmth or space that is oh so needed for great psychedelia. This is the grand problem with modern rock bands. They continue to use modern music equipment in a postmodern world, and thus it just doesn’t sound right. To my ears, digital productions sounds best on electronic and hip hop music i.e. art forms that use digital instruments. The use of traditional instruments with the sterility of today’s production just innately sounds wrong. Don’t get me wrong i think a musical genius could possibly use these old instruments in this new environment, but for new artists honing their craft, it just sucks.
So I’m giving this a THUMBS DOWN. And i wish the musicians would try to make music that reflects the times more. Psychedelia in a digital space would and does sound brilliant. Try that instead of this sad ‘67 worship.