Saturday, April 2, 2011

Album Review: Mansions - Dig Up The Dead

It's not easy to make an album this dark so beautiful. Christopher Browder, the brainchild of Mansions, must have had quite a difficult life to create such a depressingly personal album. From the hopeless vocals similar to Jesse Lacey, to the lo-fi grungy guitar riffs, to the downtrodden lyrics, Browder creates an album that might not strike a casual listener as something pretty. But if one listens intently, he or she will discover the true depth of Dig Up The Dead.

Browder is excellent in drawing out emotions using several different techniques, many of which are shown in opener "Dig Up The Dead". The first is the build-up, used as a lead in to the vocals, containing beautiful distorted guitar and a wonderful crescendo before the fade out. Then there are the instrumentals, which are dark and brooding and go along perfectly with the rest of the music. But probably the most powerful technique involves Browder's excellent vocals. Though they are usually somewhat monotonous and not very rangy, the delivery of the lyrics makes up for it, as the stress behind the vocals can be felt within every syllable. When Browder does go up into the higher register, it usually brings excellent results, as in the bridge of "Dig Up The Dead. These methods are used consistently throughout the album, usually in a successful manner.

"Not My Blood" and "City Don't Care" are two of the best tracks on the album, and putting them back to back almost seems like an emotional beatdown. "Not My Blood" begins with some dark imagery in the lyrics, as Browder sings "jump out of moving cars / call it a good thing / you can't feel your beating heart / you are not living". Ambient, almost post-rock like riffs in the chorus demonstrate that Browder isn't just a vocalist, but also an extremely talented guitarist. "City Don't Care" is a slightly more upbeat song, driven by rumbles of bass. The song also contains the strongest hook on the record, and some of the strongest lyrics. Browder speaks of how disregard others that are strange and odd, and creates an extremely relatable track.

From what's described above, a listener can pretty much get a feel of the whole album. The album runs together pretty well, but that isn't a large negative. In fact, the album could have been even better as one large track, as splitting it into individual tracks is unnecessary. Browder continues to pour his heart out over all thirty-five minutes of the record, and in the age where singles run rampant and commercialism dominates the industry, Dig Up The Dead stands out not for any specific song, but for the whole cohesive product. That is the lost meaning of music. Mansions knows that, and knows that needs to change.

Projected Score: 8.5/10
Revised Score (5/19/11): 9.1/10

Track List:
1. Dig Up the Dead
2. Blackest Sky
3. Not My Blood
4. City Don't Care
5. Call Me When It's Over
6. Wormhole
7. Close That Door
8. Seven Years
9. You Got Cool
10. Yer Voice

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