Review: Mansions return with the dark and brooding ‘Deserter’
Mansions in 2011 was a band known for their intimate, confessional singalongs. Mansions in 2017 will be known for their shoegaze-meets-electronic rock songs. Throughout most of Deserter’s six tracks, the band marries synths with heavy, distorted guitars, building on the palette that 2013’s Doom Loop set down.
“Heel Theme” sets the tone right off the bat, with a thick wall of guitars and buzzing synths. It feels like a blown-out version of Doom Loop cuts like “Climbers” or “The Economist,” taking everything that worked about those songs and dialing them up to eleven. Other songs, like “I Feel Worse” and “Brain Fog,” lean more heavily into the electronic sound, being built more on synths than even guitars.
But maybe the biggest curveball comes at the end of the EP – “One of Three” is the comedown after the rest of Deserter’s fuzzy high. It’s an acoustic track reminiscent of Mansions’ earlier work, complete with a callback to Dig Up the Dead’s highlight “Close That Door.” He changes the last line of the original verse from an annoyed, “Alright, I get it” to the more self-aware, “I finally get it.” It’s an easy standout moment in the band’s discography, and it feels like a nice official farewell to that era of Mansions.
If, as it seems, Deserter (and, retrospectively, Doom Loop) signals an end to the first era of Mansions, then we might be entering the band’s most exciting phase yet. While many will miss the intimacy of New Best Friends and Dig Up the Dead, most should be able to appreciate the band breaking out of their comfort zone and trying their hands at new styles. And if, like on Deserter, they can pull them off, no one should be worried that they closed that door.