Since their formation during the 2009 Queens of the Stone Age tour break, Mini Mansions have constantly tried to establish themselves as a self-professed fun-band. Their new release A Guy Walks Into a Bar attempts to help in this endeavour. It is reminiscent of a jukebox, a compilation of individually good tracks that work well together. It is an album of experimentation, and for seasoned musicians like Shuman, Dawes, and Parkford, it must be nice to sit back and write the music that you want and not what is expected.
On first listen, “Works Every Time” sounds extremely familiar. With its mellow backing and simple guitar, the lyrics are angsty and questioning. The vocal familiarity jumps straight into the chorus with pure re-imagined 80’s style synth lines working in the background. Mini Mansions inability to stick to one genre allows them to amalgamate these styles together to create something that is both familiar and totally their own.
Stomping into life with heavy drums and a liberal spread of synth “I’m In Love” stays true to its title. The music is a mix of traditional happy melodies and dark synth and muffled guitars bringing a new tone to this happy tale of love. When it comes to lyrics, the lyrics are so on the nose, you can’t mistake their meaning. With each profession comes a modern comparison. Mini Mansions don’t compare the feeling of jumping out of a plane without a parachute or any of the normal comparisons. Sticking to rock’n’roll, each comparison is made to a different drug of choice. While this track is catchy and fun, it is difficult to decipher whether it is earnest or not. Either way, it is definitely the best track on the album.
With its twinkling synth, “Living In The Future” introduces a vocal that is pulled straight from both the Arctic Monkeys and Golden Silvers back catalog. While Mini Mansions have said that they intend for their music to be fun, it is unclear if this track is an ode to comedy music or just a musical mix mash that has resulted in a weirdly non-sensical musical version of fun. There are nods to 80’s synth, Bowie and sometimes Flight of the Conchords. With so many references, its difficult to focus on the track as its own offering to musical history. In saying that, it doesn’t fail to make you move.
While other albums this year have focused on one theme or problem, Mini Mansions’ A Guy Walks Into A Bar is a mix mash of genres and emotions. As a result, Mini Mansions have created an enjoyable album, with each track having its merits. It is a carefully complied playlist of songs more so than a cohesive album and definitely worth a listen.