Mini Mansions - Mini Mansions (Rekords Rekords)

A wonderfully original debut offering from Mini Mansions

Released Aug 3rd, 2011 via Rekords Rekords / By Paul Robertson
Mini Mansions - Mini Mansions (Rekords Rekords) Queens Of The Stoneage-connected LA-based trio Mini Mansions conjure up baroque psychedelic pop on this, their first full-length release for QOTSA main-man Josh Homme's Rekords Rekords label, managing the near-impossible-in-this-day-and-age feat of sounding essentially like no-one but themselves.

Usually based around the simple set-up of bass, drums, piano and vocals, the Mansions have significantly expanded their sound and scope for this debut album, recognising the need to make an impression and go full-out to grab the attention of the listener to the fullest of their extent, a mission that they have succeeded in with style, verve and swagger.

Reminiscent at various times of the late, lamented Sub Pop trio Pleasure Forever in set-up and execution, Mini Mansions also draw in such disparate sound-threads as soundtrack maestro and Fiona Apple collaborator Jon Brion – with whom they share a certain melodic sensibility and tonal palette – art-rockers Sparks, British piano-botherers Keane, prog-popsters ELO, the ever-ubiquitous Beatles and the more recent works of the mighty Queens Of The Stoneage themselves. Quite the motley crew indeed, yet it all hangs together beautifully and skilfully avoids sounding forced or derivative thanks to the skill of instrumentalists and vocalists Zach Dawes (bass/keys/vocals), Tyler Parkford (vocals/keys/guitar) and Michael Shuman (vocals/guitar/drums), he of QOTSA, all of whom possess wonderful, velvety-textured voices that blend and harmonise smoothly and effortlessly.

In their skilled hands, this melting pot of seemingly disparate musical strands comes together to make a highly engaging, piano, organ and bass-driven power-pop band with a vaudeville touch and a broad stripe of psychedelia running through the whole shebang like a brightly-coloured stick of Blackpool rock.

The twelve songs contained herein run the gamut from cinematic, noir-inflected waltzes, through to fuzzed-up psych-rock hymnals and all points inbetween, but never at the expense of melody and a damn good tune. Attention to detail is also an underappreciated skill that Mini Mansions collectively possess, as every track is richly embroidered with filigrees of sound and tone, laid on without over-egging the pudding, and replete with those wonderfully nuanced vocal performances.

All in all, Mini Mansions have gone and made a gem of a record that really does seem to contain something for just about everyone with an ear for a good tune and a love of tinkled ivories and fuzzy psych.