Mansions – ‘Big Bad’ album review


Mansions fourth album ‘Big Bad’ signals a new beginning for the now duo of Chris Browder and Robin Dove. Honing in on a more atmospheric sound with plenty of textures, the song finds Chris trying to make sense of getting older and making the most of what’s ahead of you: ‘The real freedom is when you’re choosing to be who you are. And not just reacting’.

There is talk of trust on the slow-burning, bass-heavy opener ‘Do It Again’ before ‘Black and White’ finds the Seattle duo experimenting with Radiohead-style piano and electronic beats. It’s a powerful statement and warning about hanging out with the wrong people: ‘You don’t touch guys like me’. The honest lyrics of ‘Power Lines’ are hugely powerful and relatable as Chris discuses the mundanity and complexities of modern life: ‘Stop off for a drink heading home from work’; ‘I’m starting to expect there’s someone else going by the name you call yourself, kissing in hotel rooms after dark’.

‘Wait, the water’s not that deep’ are the opening words of ‘Let’s Explode’, a fragile psychedelic-tinged piece that combines cute hooks with a twinkling breakdown, while ‘Get Loose’ continues this more understated sound as the duo support someon who is struggling: ‘Turn back the clocks, tomorrow can wait. It’s just like you but happier. A lot like you but funnier’. ‘PPV’ is a song about wishing you were back at a particular time in your life and pondering if you could reform the bonds you shared with certain people  – even though this could be a mistake: ‘Don’t know why I’m so surprised to see that shadow slowly creeping up on me’.

‘Redeemed’ is a more reflective song with subtle piano and guitar notes and observations on how ‘comfort comes too slow’ and ‘it’s a wonderful life when the angle’s just right’. The album finishes with The National-esque ‘Strugglers’, a goosebump-inducing and atmospheric piece with restrained drums and confessional lyrics that show how we need to make the most of what time we have: ‘I am, I guess, whatever. I am, I guess, who cares’; ‘There’s no way around it, nothing good can last but it’s you and me forever, you and me for good’.

This is a thoughtful and empathetic record that finds the Seattle duo asking big questions about what we call life and examining how we can all be better by following our Big Bad hearts…


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