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The Mansions
Charms for Love and Revenge
Prometheus Records

The Players:

Eddie O - Vocals
Johnny Burke - Guitar
Jeff Rodriguez - Bass
Chris Cano Ė Percussion, Synth, Programming, Acoustic guitar
Complaints Dept. Ė Whereís the sitar?

The Mansions are damn cool. Charms plays on all my 80ís goth/wave weaknesses. Itís exhilarating like hearing Elastica for the first time and recognizing it isnít the first time. It hails back to those important times in my life when it was enjoyable wallowing in misery and rebellion spelled out in eyeliner. Ignore for the most part, all the Bauhaus comparisons slapped on them. Thereís a taste of Peter Murphy in the vocals, but not enough to raise a fuss about. The tunes are melodic. The playing is original and catchy as hell.

"Brave New World" builds to a soar into a downfall progression like a slow-dance at the prom. The synthesizers are taunting, hitting that spot that you hold secretly dear. The swirling psychedelic guitars, as well as Eddieís vocal lines, bring to mind The Church in their Heyday. Itís a lush multi-leveled sound segmented smartly to hold you in. The ultra cool B-movie theramin-inspired keys in "Rock & Roll" put an urgency to the tension from the band. The gear-shifting supports the uncontrollable mood of the trashy story, "This lifeís a peep-show, ainít no cabaret." Thereís a contagious desperation in search of deliverance. Rich textures on the slowed down "Under The Sky" make for a sweetly straining nostalgia. Velvet red shades form ripples from the organ and ringing guitar. Melodramatic and sweeping like some of Marc Almondís darker work. Olguinís British affectations come across comfortably rather than pretentious.

Bouncy synths and T-Rex phrasings on "Z-28" are sleazy loads of fun. OK, so a little Murphy similarities here, but equal parts Classix Nouveaux in threat. Different vocal effects flavor this sing-along. Eddie gets snotty and whiny as needed between growls. The new romantic cityscape "Love And Other Rituals" is a little echoey and a lot Bunnymen. Itís a rainy song pretty enough to dance slowly clinging desperately to your other. Layer upon layer of lush instrumentation takes you to the plateau. It sounds like part of a soundtrack to a lost John Hughes movie. The well-crafted anthem "Sirens" seems to rally the club kids with malevolent tinges of Shriekback, "I think we took it a little a little too far now. But this time I swear it was accidental. Yes, I know how, and I want to show you. But nothing in the dark is coincidental."

Wherever "The Drive" is heading, I donít want to be the unwary passenger. The synthetic strings slice like Norman Bates through the curtain of guitars, thick with theatrics that make you yell, "Look out!" at the screen. Through the ill intentions of "Beyond The Satellites", the singerís idle assurances that "Things are getting better now" lend little comfort. He comes across like Jack Nicholson promising, "Iím not gonna hurt ya." Some movie mogul in LA-LA land needs to make "Oblivious" the next "Red Right Hand." The sinister keys build into a serrated guitar lick. Then it explodes like the cool part of "Live And Let Die." Rodriguez kicks out a bass line that sticks fiercely. According to the epic, "Little Atomic Bomb," the boys have come up with a solution to the stifling mood in LA. Thankfully, they have found a little space to explore in the sparsely populated song. Driven by Canoís inventive drumming, the guitars stretch and swell from chaotic discordance into acoustic peacefulness. It plays like the arid aftermath of their handiwork, scanning the emptiness until it zeroes in on the sole inhabitant. The payoff is as lush and satisfying as it is disturbing. The Mansionsí ability to manipulate the dynamics is a good sign they will be around past this album. The band works together nicely to build their twisted vision.

On the spooky mansion scale, one=Haunted Mansion Mystery: and ten=Uninvited, Charms For Love And Revenge rates a nine: House On Haunted Hill (original)

Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing:

  1. Brave New World
  2. Rock & Roll
  3. Under The Sky
  4. Z-28
  5. Love And Other Human Rituals
  6. Sirens
  7. The Drive
  8. Beyond The Satellites
  9. Oblivious
  10. Little Atomic Bomb

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