Now on Long Enough To Leave, The Mantles still color outside the lines but dial a cleaner, more infectious sound. SF’s Kelley Stoltz (Sub Pop) recorded the new album with enough savvy to make it pop while keeping the performances idiosyncratic & affecting. Sharp ears may spot bits of early Love, New Zealand’s Flying Nun label and LA’s Paisley Underground, but The Mantles are very far from revivalists and have more song-writing and arranging skill at their disposal than many bands could hope to have.
Long Enough To Leave is both impressionistic and psychedelic – guitar melodies evoke lyrical themes in equal measure to the plaintive words of vocalist Michael Olivares, whose frank and poetic take on ordinary reality strips familiar themes of their clichés. The band plays with a musical synchronicity and clarity that enlivens tunes like album opener “Marbled Birds” and the rocking “Reason’s Run.”
“Hello” is a tough, garagey stomp that contrasts nicely with the contemplative “Long Enough To Leave” which follows it. “Raspberry Thighs,” originally released on a scarce French 7″ single, is reprised and re-recorded with dreamy clarity. “Bad Design” is a great take on a long-time live favorite, while “Brown Balloon” joins “Don’t Lie” and “Lily Never Married” in a long line of Mantles garage-pop classics.
By foregoing the theater of retro psychedelia, The Mantles end up innovating in an area of guitar music where many bands get lost fawning over fashions, styles and trends. Long Enough To Leave instead stakes their claim as writers and players of distinction, building a sturdy catalog of excellent songs and increasingly accomplished records.