Thursday, July 4, 2013

Album Review: The Mantles-Long Enough to Leave

Christ, why does it take me so long to get into great bands? The Mantles are an absolutely wonderful pop band out of San Francisco band who have been churning out singles, EPs, and albums steadily for the past three years of pure, pristine jangle-pop. Wonderful jangle-pop that I purposely ignored for reason that I can’t possibly fathom right now as I sit here listening to Long Enough to Leave.

What’s nice is the small shifts in sound The Mantles make within their songs to keep them consistently interesting. This is displayed from the beginning with “Marbled Birds”. It opens with a simple, twangy guitar line, interweaved with a steady tambourine beat, the just as bright bass line, and another guitar melody. The song stays steady, incurring an almost beach like feel, especially when the background “ahhs” come in during the verses. Then the song picks up, the guitar ringing a little louder, the vocals a bit more impassioned before ending on this lovely, chiming outro from the way the guitars play off each other. Being part of the San Francisco scene to a degree seems to have helped shaped their sound so it doesn’t follow the same linear path that a good majority of jangle pop albums work along. Drawing from the fractured garage-pop of peer White Fence and from shambolic pop work of the early English DIY scene, there is a scruffy undercoating that lies at the heart of many of the songs on Long Enough to Leave. It might not seem like much on the surface, but for an album so firmly rooted in a specific sound (wilting guitar encased within a Velvet Underground obsession and simplicity), it’s these small shifts that elevate the pop records to greatness.

The result is ten tracks of restless, effortless, and sublime guitar-pop. “Raspberry Thighs” could easily be a secret Real Estate song that the band passed along to The Mantles to record. “Bad Design” bridges the gap between Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Boomgates in its fuzzy three minutes. The title track shows how skilled the band is at making melody, building half the song around just some off-kilter guitar playing. Painting Long Enough to Leave as a sunshine record, though, would be a mistake; the album title itself being the band’s little tip off. There are slightly darker edges lurking within the album, from the skewed pop of “Hello” to the cynical sage wisdom of “Don’t Cross Town” (which has this absolutely wonderful two second build-up pop to deliver its chorus). Once the Television Personalities-esque “More Than I Pay” (right down to the influx of the vocals to make them sound more English) comes in, the intended scope of Long Enough to Leave becomes clear. The band is coating the melancholy that lies at the core of all their songs in a thick shell of never ending guitar hooks and earworm melodies. And it all works because the album is a lovely collection of sublime, if brief jangle-pop excellence.


The Mantles' Tumblr
Buy Long Enough to Leave here, from Slumberland Records

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