Listening to The Mantles, I am having a difficult time discerning anything truly unique about this group’s sound. They fit the standard mold of a 60s garage-pop-influenced artist swung into modern times and set to 2009’s favorite: lo-fi fuzzed-out distortion. That in itself isn’t uncommon given the decades-old influence. Their melodies are a standard sort of catchy, not too hook-ridden yet not overly complacent.
Given these statements, you might think I would dislike The Mantles – however, you’d be underestimating my love for this sound. Rather, The Mantles fit everything I look for in the genre. Sure, there may not be much new here, but isn’t that what gives much of that 60s garage pop its appeal? I think so.
Within this album, there are very few low points. Filter The Zombies through a hazy fog of distortion and drop Argent’s keys and you might have half The Mantles’ sound. Punk that sound up a bit and you might have the other half. “Burden” shines with exceptional guitar riffs, “Disappearing Act” throws in the uniqueness of barely-in-tune vocals, and “Yesterday’s Gone” drops in Stooges-worthy guitar and vocals. It’s simple, but that’s a big part of what makes it so good.
They boast Progress not Perfection, and in that regard, this band is spot-on. It’s the mantra of this highly descriptive array of sub-genres. Progress in the longing to return to the wildly phenomenal artistry of that older era, and certainly not perfect in that it’s lo-fi and borderline sloppy. However, the truth is that I find this music has its own sort of perfection despite whatever flaws may exist.
Siltbreeze Records [12″ LP, 2009]
1. Disappearing Act
2. What We Do Matters
3. Look Away
5. Don’t Lie
7. Yesterday’s Gone
9. Bury Me Dead
10. Thin Reminder