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Album Reviews, Music

Album Review: Mini Mansions – “Guy Walks Into A Bar…”

By: Kirstin Bews



Dynamic LA-based trio, Mini Mansions are releasing their richest album to date, Guy Walks Into A Bar…on July 26th via Fiction Records. Partners in crime and musical harmony, Michael Shuman, Zach Dawes, and Tyler Parkford have reflected their personalities into this work by playing on their individual idiosyncrasies. Each member sits upon their own pedestal, turning the notion of ‘power couple’, into ‘power trio’. Shuman plays in the Queens of the Stone Age, Parkford plays in Arctic Monkeys and Dawes plays in The Last Shadow Puppets. Together, they make up Mini Mansions.

Guy Walks Into A Bar… is a literal emotional rollercoaster fuelled by love, that rides up and down, side to side, before steering upside-down, coming to its timely end. Shuman wrote this album in real-time as his romance began, flourished, and then ended. The narrative progress from reckless antics to catching feelings and falling in love, to dramatically falling out of it. Mini Mansions are known for bringing the fun times, however, this album bridges with the anxiety of becoming grown-up men, moving forward from their freewheelin’ days, that most doubt are behind them.  

Opening with an industrial crank, ‘We Should Be Dancing’, carries the depth and strength of a Queens of the Stone Age hit with an undercurrent of electronica. This track paves the way for the direct anthems that send the album spinning. Next off the bat, ‘Bad Things That Make You Feel Good’, comes guns blaring with a passionately fast drum beat. This track burns a hole that signals the heated intensity of the record, making Guy Walks Into A Bar…abruptly stand out in their discography.  

Debut single ‘GummyBear’ sits at track nine. Soft, wispy vocals slide over a thick bassline. The song talks to a love that won’t last, with hilarious lyrical discussion the line “boy, I thought you was sweet girl, but you’re just sugar-free” embodies this temporality. The music literally chimes in with the punch line after Shuman sings “If you wanna play houses, girl, well, uh, who you wanna be?” is followed by the playful audio of a doorbell. The door motif is followed through by the music video.The band walks in and out of an illuminated keyhole throughout the video, before taking a few cameos under, somewhat psychedelic, disco lights. The disco vibe is pushed by Shuman, Dawes, Parkford as they dance with isolated movements, like something out of a 1970s discotheque. The meaning behind the song is not forgotten in the fun, though, as Dawes and Parkford seem to console Shuman at 2.34, making the song feel all the more personal.

The second single, ‘Hey Lover’ (feat, The Kills’ Alison Mosshart) formats itself as an intimate conversation between two lovers. Using the phone, the first verse sung by Shuman opens with “hey lover”, to be greeted in verse two with Mosshart singing “hey fucker”. The chorus is sung by both Shuman and Mosshart and is strewn with a raw, heavy, drawn-out emotion. An iteration of “don’t you know we’ve done this all before” marks a familiarity in the phone call, increasing the feeling of impending doom. Mosshart is sitting in front of a webcam, in a hoodie, smoking, while Shuman is sitting in the studio, clearly distracted as Parkford and Dawes play or look on. This is not a happy scenario for either party as both are clearly suffering from a toxic relationship. Shuman grows more and more distracted, finally leaving the studio with Dawes and Parkford in tow as the sun shines on a bright blue sky. Shuman’s voice sings  “don’t look back girl, just keep walking, I can take the pain”. Not giving up right away, Mosshart stays on the line, taking a second to realize the phone call is over before she carries on with her cigarette. A heartbreakingly beautiful love song. 



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