Mini Mansions – Mini Mansions (Domino)

June 20, 2011 by  

Mini Mansions are quite possibly the shock that 2011 has been waiting for, here to challenge The Flaming Lips for incorporating a brazen form of psychedelic pop into their persona. And though they may not win, for the first time in a long while, I think we have ourselves a fair fight.

They are made up of a group of Californian musicians which include Michael Shuman, who most will know and doubtless need to double take from rock band royalty Queens of the Stone Age. But do not be fooled into thinking that after learning this little insight that you know what you can expect. It is, in fact, absolutely nothing like you expect. The easiest way to imagine the sound you find when ?The Room Outside? kicks in and exposes the secrets that Shuman has been hiding, is to believe that he has been in a room since the last QOTSA tour, The Beatles on continuous repeat, literally living ?Eleanor Rigby? like he was her long, lost love.

It gives it that circus macabre, almost nightmarish at times. There are some quite genius pop songs like ?Crime of the Season? and especially ?Monk?, all set against a background of burlesque and Addams Family piano sections.

It also demonstrates the nicest and easiest thing about this record; the fact that it gives reviewers no chance to make comparisons with Shuman?s (AKA Mikey Shoes) efforts thus far as both Josh Homme?s band member and also a member of Wires on Fire. As side projects go, this is wildly different, not showing even the mildest glimpse of similarity and you?re left wondering where this has all comes from, but mostly, why has it taken so long for the cream to rise to the top?

?Seven Sons? again, is another great example of the dense Fab Four influences, and pushes the middle album tracks along like a slow train with it?s cruise control on. The album?s interludes, entitled ?Vignette #1?, ?#2? and ?#3? are ghoulish reminders that this album?s primary illusions are represented by psychedelic undertones. For that matter, it?s also represented by a large smattering of psychedelic overtones.

The album starts to clear up as it heads towards the last few tracks. Skewed though the songs still are, a sweet and almost cheeriness seeps into the songs though the horns still present to remind Shuman not to stray too far. It?s kind of like Sufjan Stevens decided to re-record ?Chicago? as a 40-minute lampoon. ?Majik Marker? and ?Girls? draw a pretty spectacular sounding album to its near conclusion.

It really is the surprise package release of this year so far, for a few different reasons. Whatever reason draws you to this record, I can almost guarantee, it won?t matter. You?ll like it all the same.