Album Review
Mansions - New Best Friends Album Cover

Mansions - New Best Friends

Reviewed by
Mansions - New Best Friends
Record Label: Doghouse Records
Release Date: March 3, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Christopher Browder and his solo-ma-jig Mansions have received quite a bit of chatter these past few months. A self-titled EP and Jay Reatard-esque mega project aptly titled Initiative helped grow his name and, most importantly, his buzz. Browder has been touted by plenty of AP.net staff members, but they like anything and everything so I was a bit skeptical. Scratch that; I was very skeptical. When comparisons are made between a glorified teenager and industry staples like Max Bemis or Conor Oberst, noses automatically stick up in the air: “Pshaw! I’ll be the judge of his so-called talent.” It’s not like those revered names did anything worthwhile at Browder’s age. Or am I forgetting something? The Wikipedia articles for both artists are frustratingly vague.

Mansions’ quantity doesn’t ensure, well, anything. Just look at me: hundreds of reviews, three of which are good. My age has held me back, but this is not the case for Browder. He clearly understands the intricacies and angles of electronic pop music. Effects play hide and seek with listeners, like how the ticking drums of “Holidaze” lead us into an acoustic therapy session rather than walls o’ noise. Or how the eerie droning of opener/intro “I Told A Lie” clearly works as background noise - while also making the song full-bodied and thematic. However, New Best Friends truly lives in the space between rock and contemplation; “Talk Talk Talk” hits loud guitar climaxes more than once, but Browder’s scratchily delivered lyrics always shine through (“And everything you did was so / Idealized and enviable / Your perfect life it got so old / So I turned my head”).

Those looking for a new Say Anything may be disappointed. The true comparisons bubble up in lyrical content and a lovable level of self-righteousness. Most songs play the “I’m right. You’re wrong.” card, and that’s just fine because Browder makes his points through interesting imagery (“Substitute Angel”) and reverb-filled foot tappers (“Gotta Be Alone”). But it’s his singing/speaking style that makes him easily identifiable. When he does sing, like on the acoustically anchored “Curacao Blue”, he sounds loads more emotional. New Best Friends uses both styles in an efficient manner. Chances are you'll never tire of either variation on Browder's voice.

Despite my life’s good luck streak (:knocks on wood:), New Best Friends has latched on. It’s really quite a downer: songs about ended relationships, liars, players, and even terrible music scenes. The guitars typically fight Browder’s less-than-appealing demeanor (“All Eyes On You”), but this produces complications begging to be undone. As Browder menacingly asks, “Have you ever really seen yourself / The way that everyone else sees you”, it makes you wonder how often our perceptions differ from those around us. This sentiment isn’t astoundingly creative or anything, but his wiser-than-you delivery makes the line hit with more force than you’d expect. It’s an answer most of us don’t want to know. It’s the answer Christopher Browder will continue to give.

Recommended If You Like: Say Anything, Bright Eyes, anything, Aqueduct, everything

When I Was An Astronautwww.myspace.com/mansions
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 52
04:29 PM on 03/17/09
makin' good time
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Ryzenfall's Avatar
Nice review. Such an impressive release.
04:59 PM on 03/17/09
Sic Transit Zeb
Registered User
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Sic Transit Zeb's Avatar
I agree, I'm happy he got such a good review cuz this album is really good. My one gripe is I wish he'd use different vocal styles but I can't complain cuz I like all his stuff so far.
05:19 PM on 03/17/09
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anamericangod's Avatar
Damn, I was in the middle of writing a review for this. Didn't know staff was working on it. Nice review, great album.
05:20 PM on 03/17/09
Holly HoX!
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Holly HoX!'s Avatar
His EP with Brian Warren of Weatherbox, rightly titled ManBox, is really, really great. Can't expect much less from a member of the Doghouse. He deserves this great review. Props.
05:53 PM on 03/17/09
glory glory
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IamTheINDUSTRY's Avatar
good album. still sitting with me. loved it on first listen. and now i am letting it grow.
07:16 PM on 03/17/09
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Gregory Robson's Avatar
Solid. Strong review for a very strong album. Cheers.
07:20 PM on 03/17/09
Blake Solomon
A tree you cannot cut.
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Blake Solomon's Avatar
Solid. Strong review for a very strong album. Cheers.
i had that mason proper avatar like 8 months ago. Welcome to the back of the line!
07:24 PM on 03/17/09
Registered Vegan
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uglystar03's Avatar
I loved the Initiative EPs, especially the Mr. Boddy EP. I'm not sure if I'll purchase this though.
05:51 AM on 03/18/09
You'd be good for me
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fadedmemories's Avatar
This review just made me more excited to hear this.
08:49 AM on 03/18/09
Dude, this is so Inception.
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Broclee's Avatar
Such a great release, I didn't know what to expect, with all that I'd heard, but I wasn't disappointed.
08:51 AM on 03/18/09
and sail belly up to the clouds
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JordanBuell's Avatar
if you loved the Mr. Boddy Ep then i say defiantly pick up a copy. Yeah all of the songs have been heard and released before but it is nice to hear the finished versions.
08:56 AM on 03/18/09
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jusscali's Avatar
Yeah, this was a great write up Blake - really enjoyed the read and I really enjoy the record.

Gotta Be Alone has such a New Radicals feeling to it and I love it!

Are you doing the TDS review as well?
09:10 AM on 03/18/09
stop trying so hard
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pshh's Avatar
goood job
09:19 AM on 03/18/09
Forest of Noise
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Hereformusic's Avatar
Great Release, the version I got came with all the Intiative EPs on an Mp3 disc. Mr Boddy is a great Ep..

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